Not without reason (part 1 of 2) 不是沒有道理…第一部分
Updated: Apr 19, 2020
(Please scroll down for Chinese translation 繁体中文请往下滑).
As the protests in Hong Kong have continued there has been a changing narrative between the mainland government, the Hong Kong government and Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the Police, the pro-democracy protesters, and others such as Demosistō leader Joshua Wong, the Office for Hong Kong and Macau Affairs, U.S. President Donald Trump, and former Governor of Hong Kong (pre-handover) Chris Patten. Each side tells their own story and argues a particular view of events.
It's the beginning of October, and lately there has been a distinct shift of focus, with public announcements becoming increasingly critical of the 'violence' and 'destructive behaviour' of the pro-democracy movement. Different sectors of society are being urged to join in the condemnation of the protesters who have messed up many parts of the city, smashed up parts of MTR stations and targeted some businesses.
What often seems to have been lost in this narrative is the recognition that violence against people and destruction or damage of objects are not the same thing. Even by the Police's own standard kicking an object is trivial, while life is to be protected. Molotov cocktails or petrol bombs are a case in point. Sometimes protesters throw them in a defensive manner to make the advancing riot Police back off. Other times they have been thrown either poorly or accidentally, but more commonly as an offensive tactic to start fires. Coincidentally one of the protesters' slogans is "If we burn, you burn with us."
How do we compare the breaking of a suspect's arm by a police officer who uses excessive force during an arrest, for instance, with the protester's smashing of a CCTV camera or other surveillance equipment? How do we compare the burning of the Chinese flag with violence against people in incidents such as when journalists are pepper-sprayed by the police who often do not show their warrant cards, or the retribution enacted by protesters after a taxi driver deliberately drives his vehicle directly into a crowd marching on the street?
It must also be remembered that harm can be inflicted on others in ways that do not involve physical violence. According to those who study peace and violence, direct violence is easily noticed because we can identify the perpetrator. Two other forms of violence are structural violence and cultural violence that involve systemic injustice, power imbalance and damaging social norms. Violence can be just like workplace bullying, but the harm is inflicted on a nationwide scale. We may be left out, not included, or discriminated against. We may be ridiculed and insulted verbally. We may be manipulated and controlled unfairly. We may be treated inhumanely as mere objects. People may lie to us, hide information or be reckless with the truth. Things can be released to us slowly, given to us incomplete, or withheld from us completely! We can be denied our human rights and freedoms under the Basic Law.
In the current context we should not forget the violence perpetrated against us by successive governments long before the protests began in July. Most people who join marches and rallies now are motivated by much more than their opposition to the Extradition Bill Carrie Lam introduced. For some the Umbrella Revolution of 2014 failed to win democratic reform because protesters weren't united, and were not aggressive enough in response to the government of the day. Now the strategies used by authorities in mainland China and our local Legislators are much more divisive. Its' all about "us" and 'them". As time goes by the number of reasons why pro-democracy activists have increasingly resorted to violence to make their point has grown. Violence is not pretty!
Please read Not without reason... Part 2 of 2
在當前情況下，我們不應忘記在七月抗議活動開始之前很久以來歷屆政府對我們施加的暴力。現在，大多數參加遊行和集會的人的動機遠不止是他們對林鄭提出的引渡條例草案的反對。對於某些人來說，2014年的雨傘革命 未能贏得民主改革，是因為抗議者不團結，對當今政府的反應不夠積極。現在，中國大陸 當局和我們當地的立法者使用的策略更具分裂性。一切都與“我們”和“他們”有關。隨著時間的推移，支持民主運動的人越來越多地訴諸於暴力 來表達自己的觀點。