Liberate Hong Kong

Sandy Lee, Photography Editor

There’s an ongoing crisis riddled with violence and corruption that’s happening in Hong Kong, and it needs your attention.

To get a better understanding of the Hong Kong protests, it’s vital to know the history of the region and its relationship to mainland China.

Mainland China is infamous for their strict censorship laws, their history of silencing their people, and their poor human rights record.

Hong Kong is practically its own country with its own government and laws, but it is still technically part of mainland China which is known as a two systems, one country system.

With this agreement, Hong Kong is able to grant its residents freedoms that mainland Chinese citizens aren’t given. Taiwan is in a similar situation where it functions as its own country, but many still consider it a part of mainland China.

The discussion about the separate systems began when a Hong Kong resident had murdered his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan, and he later confessed his crime in Hong Kong. He was unable to be convicted for his crime because there was no agreement between the two systems in Hong Kong and Taiwan that allowed one region to request the surrender of a fugitive.

This situation led to discussions about an agreement, but Beijing got involved which stirred concerns in Hong Kong as it would subject all Hong Kong residents to the threat of being victims of a notoriously cruel legal system.

The new bill was met with an uproar of protests where people urged the government to rescind the bill. Beijing’s involvement imposed a threat to residents of Hong Kong because they had an overwhelming fear of being victims of a corrupt legal system they don’t belong to.

People weren’t hesitant about the agreement with Taiwan, as that country grants more human rights like Hong Kong does; the main opposition was towards the inclusion of mainland China. A protest on Sunday, December 8, stretched for several miles with up to 800,000 attendees demanding for greater civil liberties from their government. This is one of the largest protests yet which emphasizes how the movement is growing rather than dying. The protests have been riddled with violence from both sides, but the police brutality against protesters has been extreme. Amnesty International has called the police’s use of force a violation of human rights, and they have made accusations of the police torturing detained protesters. According to TIME, the police have fired live bullets at protests, leaving one person in critical condition, a student has died after being found with serious head injuries near a protest site, and a police officer drove a motorbike through a crowd of protesters. There are even allegations of police officers gang-raping a detained protester while in detention. While this is unconfirmed, it’s important to know that these accusations are being made.

The Hong Kong protesters have five core demands for the government to answer to before they even think about backing down.

The first demand is for the bill to be rescinded completely. This is what started the protests initially, and, in October, Carrie Lam, the prime minister of Hong Kong, met this demand.

The second demand is for Lam’s resignation. Her time as Hong Kong’s leader has proven to be disastrous with the extradition bill as proof. She and her administration have also previously been under fire for the imprisonment for democratic activists, the criminalization of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party, and the disqualification of multiple pro-democracy candidates. Lam no longer acts as a leader for the people with 80% of Hong Kong residents stating their refusal to support her in a survey conducted by Hong Kong Free Press

The third demand is for the government to redact all references to the protests as “riots.” There was undoubtedly violence from both sides during the protests, but characterizing the clashes as riots is portraying people’s efforts into fits of irrational anger. This narrative demonizes the protesters which takes away from the entire movement they’ve diligently worked on, but the majority of them are pushing forward using peace.

The fourth demand calls for an independent inquiry on the actions of the police. There are many accounts of the police using unnecessary force, but no action against them is being taken. This means that the officers will remain untouched while the people who were victims of the violence and aggression have to live on knowing their attackers won’t face any consequences. It’s not that the people are completely innocent, but the police have clearly committed wrongdoings and should be investigated, and Hong Kong can be protected by people who rightfully deserve the title of a police officer. This is an extremely important demand because there’s no way a group this badly mistreated by the police will back down knowing that their abusers get to continue on with their lives. 

The fifth and final demand is that all the protesters who were imprisoned are to be released and cleared of their charges. The perspective is that they shouldn’t be sentenced to years of imprisonment when the government is consistently making corrupt decisions. 

It is deemed nearly impossible for the people of Hong Kong to receive any justice while the corrupt and inhumane Communist party still holds power in mainland China, but there’s still something that can be done.

America has already begun in doing its part in helping Hong Kong with two bills. The first authorizes sanctions on officials in both mainland China and Hong Kong for violations of human rights. The second one bans the sale of crowd-controlling equipment such as tear gas and rubber bullets to Hong Kong police. But this is only a start. America and other countries