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Hong Kong: Will history be re-written?

The present situation and emerging dangerous consequences can evaporate the basic norms and ethics in this society. All who involved in this remarkable event must act wisely before it gate too late to make corrections.

| by Nilantha Ilangamuwa

click here or here to read the first part of this series

( October 6, 2014, Hong Kong SAR, Sri Lanka Guardian) Raymond Chan, who is in the beginning vehemently refused to talk about what is going on in Hong Kong had a change of mind and indeed, once he got started he was difficult to stop.

His words were enthusiastic and prophesy emerged along with the fear of the future of what he called the first genuine protest he has ever seen in his life. Around 60 years of age, he attended the protest along with his wife, and I met both while walking with a small group of volunteers helping writers and reporters in translation.

Photograph © Nilantha Ilangamuwa
“I have never seen this type of non-violent protest in my entire life; perhaps I’m strongly supporting these innocents who are yelling for the real freedom of this country”, Raymond said.

However, “I’m afraid what will happen in coming few days. On the one hand the degree of systematic violence is escalating. On the other hand there are many political movements and certain foreign countries and organisations are rushing to highjack the situation to get advantage out of the pure ideology established by those students,” he predicted.

“So they (the students) must be well aware of this and must be careful about every step”, he added.

The remarkable protest known as the “Umbrella Revolution”, has entered its eighth day.

However, many local scholars are unhappy about the terminology used by the foreign media and analysts and they expressed their disagreement, especially with the use of the word, “revolution”.

The statement published by the Translating the Umbrella Movement, a group of volunteers, headed by an undergraduate on neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University, reads as follows:

“Regarding foreign correspondents terming the occupy movement as the "umbrella revolution", Professor Kuan Hsin Chi of CUHK's department of government & public administration believes that if even Hong Kongers use this terminology, it may affect the CPG's ( Central People's Government) decision.”

“Prof. Kuan strongly opposes the term "revolution", as this movement is not to overthrow the government nor the country. If it is described as a revolution, the CPG may relate to color revolutions, thus classifying the movement as violence,” the group posted on their social media network while quoting a barrister and former LegCo member Audrey Eu.

However, it’s an impressive that many scholars actively participate in the protest as well as the ongoing intellectual debate on the political and social trends in the territory.

Photograph © Nilantha Ilangamuwa
Meanwhile, the government headed by Leung Chun-ying continued his red warning against protestors. He has stated clearly that the protestors must allow things to return to normal by Monday morning and that schools should be allowed to reopen. He was particular about government offices being allowed to reopen. He said that he was determined to "take all necessary actions to restore social order".

Under the circumstances it is quite easy to realise that the situation is now on a knife edge.

Sadly, the tension that has arisen between the people and the protestors is spreading, not only within the protest areas but also around the territory.

Emotionally motivated groups have started assaulting not only on students, but also those who are wearing the yellow ribbon, the symbol of occupy movement, even in the public transport.

This dangerous trend could be driving the situation of Hong Kong into an abyss if the government continues their policy of ignoring the core issues of the crisis and expressing anger against the protesters.

The hardline anti-protestors were able to attack students while widespread allegations against the police were raised for not taking proper action against those who assaulted students; something the police have categorically denied. 

Indeed, the social order of Hong Kong is being weakened over the position the government is taking over the historical protest, the aim of which is to achieve universal suffrage in the next election due to be held in 2017.

Karina Tsang, 17, with her colleague. Both of them are volunteering with the Translating the Umbrella Movement
One remarkable factor is the support, the protest is receiving from certain groups that came from Mainland China. 

“I’m a witness to what happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989, where numbers of my friends lost their lives”. The speaker did not wish to be named.

She was with protestors for a few days, and stayed on the street with the students.

“I rushed to Hong Kong, to show support just after I heard the news that there are people demanding freedom in Hong Kong. This is the only place where we can come and join to show our solidarity those who are fighting for freedom. Apparently, it is a day dream for us to have this type of protest in the mainland,” she added.

The very important phenomenon in this protest is the remarkable unity and collective responsibilities of each of the participants. Their unity is universal. It is genuine and they have only one hope, which is winning true of freedom through non-violent protest.

“There is always something that is beyond human, beyond system, beyond races, beyond languages, beyond identities. It is light. Amidst darkness, can we see hope? No matter where you are, behind or beyond the border, let us face all the absurdity, we need your voice,” a social media group based in Mainland China posted while condemning the violence erupted against the students in Mongkok and Causeway bay.

Emily Lau, Chairwoman of the Democratic “Party” in Hong Kong, was very happy about the protest when I spoke to her for the first time to get her point of view. But hours later, during the second brief discussion we had, she expressed her fear and urged the government to address the issues genuinely. 

“This is very dangerous development. The government must ensure basic rights of every citizen in this territory. Now there are certain groups which are attacking on those students, but sadly the government is not doing enough to prevent the attacks,” she said.

“I have no proof, who is behind those attacks but allegations by students cannot be ignored easily,” she added.

Meanwhile, Martin Lee, a longtime democracy advocate and the founding chairman of the Democratic Party of Hong Kong, addressing the students who are protesting before the LegCo, encouraged the students to fight for the freedom.

“This is what we fought for in my entire life, now you are (students) the driving force of achieving what we need in Hong Kong,” he told the crowd.

Meanwhile, “the people of Hong Kong will fight for our freedom and way of life. At a time when the world is wondering if China will be a responsible member of the global community, Hong Kong has become the essential test,” he noted in his recent op-ed to the media.

The Hong Kong SAR is getting ready to re-write her history. But there is not a silk road to walk but an acrimonious long path narrow path.

The way to win the freedom should not result in the loss of the quality constructed throughout generations. 

Photograph © Nilantha Ilangamuwa
Hong Kong as the one of best territories in the continent has taught the great lesson of overcoming difficulties of humanity. From anti-corruption to maintaining the social order through the genuine policing system and the public justice system which were gifted by past generations. 

However, the present situation and emerging dangerous consequences can evaporate the basic norms and ethics in this society. All who involved in this remarkable event must act wisely before it gate too late to make corrections.

The writer can be reached at ilangamuwa@gmail.com

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