Hunger Strikers Storm Hong Kong Chief Executive’s House

In this Sunday, July 14, 2019, photo, protesters wearing protection gears as they prepare to face-off with policemen on a street in Sha Tin District in Hong Kong. What began as a protest against an extradition bill has ballooned into a fundamental challenge to the way Hong Kong is governed …
AP Photo/Kin Cheung

Demonstrations continued in Hong Kong with at least three events planned for this week, including a march by elderly people determined to show that not just hotheaded young students are opposed to the controversial extradition law.

A group of hunger strikers with over two thousand supporters marched to Government House on Monday to demand a dialogue with chief executive Carrie Lam, whom protesters accuse of turning a deaf ear to Hongkongers.

The hunger strikers said they wished to draw attention to the lack of response by government officials to the five “core demands” of the enormous protest movement. These demands begin with the permanent and irrevocable end of the extradition bill, a condition they insist upon because they simply do not believe Lam’s promises that the bill is effectively “dead.”

The other four core demands are for a thorough investigation of police brutality against protesters, an apology from Hong Kong officials for referring to the protesters as “rioters,” the release of all imprisoned protesters, and last but hardly least, the introduction of representative democracy to replace a system that effectively lets Beijing select Hong Kong’s top officials.

Protest organizers currently seem much more focused on obtaining universal suffrage than demanding Lam’s resignation, perhaps having concluded there is little point in getting her to step down if Beijing simply replaces her with a like-minded but less politically wounded executive.

Reports continue to surface that Lam actually wants to resign, but the Chinese Communist Party will not let her go — either because they do not want to give the protest movement her scalp, they expect her to clean up the political catastrophe she created, or because they cannot find anyone who wants her job.

Protest organizers have hit on the idea of themed demonstrations to illustrate how diverse their movement has become. In addition to the elderly group scheduled to show their support for student activists on Wednesday, a group of social workers will stage a silent march to Lam’s office this weekend, carrying beach balls printed with protest messages.

Another demonstration tactic making a return from the 2014 Umbrella Movement democracy protests is the “Lennon Wall” — walls festooned with colorful Post-It notes carrying messages of support for the demonstrators. Such walls have appeared all over the city, leading to occasional scuffles when attempts are made to pull the Post-Its down.

The Civil Human Rights Front, one of the main organizing groups, is seeking police permission for another massive general rally on Sunday. The police reportedly asked organizers to postpone the event for a few weeks because they are worried about the climate of tension in Hong Kong and fear violence could break out, as occurred during a mass rally in the Hong Kong suburbs last weekend. 

Hong Kong’s annual book fair is scheduled to begin on Wednesday and last for a week, but its organizers are worried about disruptions and clashes between protesters and police. Some protesters are discussing online the possibility of staging a demonstration at booths run by outlets with connections to Beijing.


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