Around 300 pro-democracy protesters are in custody in Hong Kong following another crackdown by police. The arrests happened Sunday during an “illegal demonstration” over delayed elections. Via RTHK:
In a confrontation at the intersection of Shantung and Sai Yee streets in Mong Kok, a group of plain-clothes officers subdued a number of people. Witnesses said officers used pepper spray against passers-by who voiced their displeasure with the police action.
The force also said it had found bags of bricks and stones in an alley in Yau Ma Tei and suspected that they were intended to be used in the protests.
And as night fell, police continued their stop-and-search operation in Mong Kok.
The League of Social Democrats said three of its core members – Leung Kwok-hung, Raphael Wong and Figo Chan – were arrested by the police near Eaton Hotel in Jordan. They were seen trying to protest against the government’s decision to delay the Legco election but police quickly intervened and stopped them
The government decided to delay this year’s elections citing the coronavirus pandemic. Hong Kong’s government suggested a one year delay to the casting of ballots, something which ended up causing a bit of a split amongst LegCo opposition membership. From South China Morning Post:
But Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai said it was too early to decide whether to stay or not as there was little information to go by. “With no details of the arrangement, it is immature to discuss it. But I believe the camp has to be united,” he said. “Dividing its enemies is always the tactic of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Ted Hui Chi-fung, Wu’s party colleague, conceded views within the camp were split. “Some proposed for a collective resignation, but I see more residents wishing for the pan-democrats to fight for every inch of space,” Hui said.
But another pan-democrat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was inclined to quit and hoped all his allies would follow suit if [four incumbents who were declared ineligible because they didn’t swear allegiance to Hong Kong] were banned.
“I believe there would be little room for us to filibuster, while the government might bulldoze more draconian laws to the legislature,” the pan-democrat said. “It is getting difficult for us to avoid criticism from the public.”
Likely what Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her Chinese handlers want.
It’s understandable why pan-democrats are split on the issue. After all, is it easier to cling to some semblance of power and attempt reforms from within or follow Basic Law and the moral high ground. My own instincts say follow Basic Law because the chances of later reform remain even if it means a temporary loss of power. Hard decision to make, especially when facing a tyrannical government.
Back to Sunday’s demonstrations. The government defended police actions by telling RTHK the protesters were in violation of the National Security Law and Hong Kong’s ban of gatherings of more than two to keep the spread of coronavirus at a minimum. HKPD also sent undercover officers into the crowds and quickly started rounding up people.
Bedlam just broke out on Shantung Street in Mong Kong after undercover police posing as protesters tackled several people to the ground and pepper sprayed the crowd. pic.twitter.com/SeOT8BWLS3
— Ryan Ho Kilpatrick 何松濤 (@rhokilpatrick) September 6, 2020
SCMP also reported journalists were threatened with arrest on claims they were taking part in an illegal event. Hard to do your job when police are vowing to make your life hell.
A LegCo election needs to happen this year, not next year like Lam is planning. I’m thankful Hong Kong pan-democrats are keeping up their push for free and open elections despite HKPD and the government’s awful behavior. However, I fear the worst is yet to come for democrats there.