Last week, on Sunday, a protests even larger than the previous week’s filled the streets of Hong Kong. Undaunted by scenes of violence, where police shot rubber bullets, tear gas and beat up protesters, hundreds of thousands of hongkongers descended into the streets to protest. In a way, they showed again why the Lion’s rock spirit permeates the city.
Frustrated by Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s refusal to withdraw the bill, protesters descended in masse, this time a lot of people and parents who had not protested the first time, joined too.
The extreme force used by the Hong Kong police force also drove people in the streets to protest, a bit similar to what happened in 2014.
Protests also about police violence
A strong component of this last protest was a sense of anger and frustration towards the Hong Kong police force because of what people perceived as excess force used towards the protesting youth. This even though the protesters had been themselves using bricks and metallic poles in their scuffles with the police.
Similarly, people got inflamed by Carrie Lam dubbing the incidents “riots”, despite the fact that the protests got violent because she vowed to disregard the opinion of the people.
A lot of animosity was present, especially amount the youth, against the police.
In many ways, the Hong Kong people showed to the world, and to China in particular, why the Lion’s rock is the symbol of the city.
Huge numbers, but questionable accounting
Organizers and protesters were quick to jump on the figure of 2 million, even if it clearly did not make sense. There were a lot of people compared to one week ago, but walking was pretty fluid (compared to previous stop and go protest).
Despite the long dark queues of people, the traffic was pretty smooth, protesters moving and dispersing quickly. This video can give you a better idea.
Postponing is not withdrawing
However, Carrie Lam, despite two rather insincere apologies, seems to have once again bid on playing with time, as she just vowed to “suspend” the bill, not to withdraw it. The students gave Carrie Lam an ultimatum expiring Thursday 20 June 2019 to withdraw the bill, release prisoners and stop all prosecutions.
The government did not respond to this ultimatum, and on Friday morning, around 2,000 students encircled the Legislative Council, then targeted various other public service departments, such as the IRD (tax authorities) and the immigration department.
The whole idea of justice was forgotten by the government, or at least this was the feeling of many of the protesters on Sunday. This, despite the fact that originally Carrie Lam justified the bill by the need to extradite a criminal who confessed having assassinated his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan.
Political repression was the unanimous fear among protesters, who had in mind the risks of Beijing cracking down on dissent and opponents within the city. In many ways, people feel this one step would definitely kill Hong Kong.