Hong Kong: university protests.

Reeya H. Gadhvana

One of the worst clashes in the battle between protestors and the national police, began a week ago on Monday at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The city’s universities, once sanctuaries for young protestors at the centre of a movement about preserving Hong Kong’s autonomy from China, last week saw police confronting increasingly aggressive demonstrators at several campuses, while stating suspicions that the school was being used as a “weapon factory”.

Police stormed onto campus firing hundreds of rounds of tear gas

Following a three-day siege, police stormed onto campus firing hundreds of rounds of tear gas after university representatives were unable to diffuse the situation which escalated through the night. Some students made attempts at daring escapes, including climbing down ropes off a bridge, and evacuations via sewers. At least 30 people were treated that night in makeshift first-aid centre, while the majority of protestors – more than 1,100 of them – were captured by or surrendered to the police. Similar protests roiled other campuses across the city, as many classes have been cancelled for the rest of the semester. 

These events remind us of the decisive turn to violence the protests have taken, in a movement that started peacefully in June. The Hong Kong protests began over legislation, since scrapped, that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, and have expanded to include a broad range of demands for police accountability and greater democracy. This is especially in light of of an ex-worker at the U.K. Consulate in Hong Kong, Simon Cheng. Cheng spoke of being tortured by the Chinese secret police at the end of a business trip from Hong Kong to mainland China. 

“When the state loses, she changes the rules of the game”

In Beijing, as much of the territory remained gripped by the demonstrations, the central government condemned a decision by a Hong Kong court that overturned a ban on face masks worn by protestors. This effectively conveyed that the central government alone has the authority to rule on constitutional issues in the territory. 

The timing of the ruling raised new fears of Beijing’s efforts to erode the territory’s autonomy. “When the state loses, she changes the rules of the game,” wrote Joshua Wong, a prominent opposition leader. 

In Washington, the Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that compels the government to support Hong Kong pro-democracy activists by requiring it to impose sanctions on Chinese and Hong Long officials responsible for human rights abuses in the territory. However, decisive action both inland and out, remains to be taken. 

Image: Studio Incendo via Flickr.

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