Hong Kong: dissent spreads to mainland
"Dozens of mainlanders were taken away by the police because they openly supported Occupy Central and at least ten of them have been detained… They are in Jiangxi, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, etc," Hong Kong-based blogger and journalist Annie Zhang posted on her Facebook page on Oct. 1, the 65th National Day of the People's Republic of China. (ChinaFile, Oct. 3) The group Human Rights In China has documented at least seven mainlanders detained for expressing support for Hong Kong's Occupy Central movement. These include the poet Wang Zang, who has become a vocal supporter of Occupy Central. Wuhan rights activist Wang Fang was taken away by police after posting photos of herself raising placards in support of Occupy Central at the Beijing south station. Beijing rights defender Han Ying was taken from her home by police after posting messages of solidarity with Occupy Central on Weibo. Also detained after posting photos of the Occupy Central movement on Weibo is Shenzhen activist Wang Long, who sued China Unicom earlier this year for blocking access to Google. Shanghai activist Shen Yanqiu was detained after posting photos of herself with a shaved head in support for the Hong Kong protesters. (Shanghaiist, Oct. 5; HRIC, Oct. 3; Channel News Asia, Oct. 1)
As the work week began on the morning of Oct. 6, the protesters in Hong Kong were diminished from tens of thousands to several hundred, and some were seen removing barricades at occupied sites in front of government offices. The apparent de-escalation comes just ahead of a government deadline for police to restore access to the buildings by Monday morning. (Shanghaiist, Oct. 6)
In violence over the weekend, Hong Kong police arrested several people with links to the city's notorious Triad criminal gangs, who had apparently attacked protesters. At least half of 19 reported arrested were supposedly linked to the Triads. A total of 18 people were reported injured in the clashes, including six police officers. The clashes broke out at the shopping district of Mong Kok on Oct. 3 as hundreds of thugs stormed protesters' tents and ripped down banners, forcing many to retreat.
Amnesty International, meanwhile, has warned that female protesters have become targets of sexual assault and harassment. The human rights group accused police of "failing in their duty" to protect protesters. "Women and girls were among those targeted, including [in] incidents of sexual assault, harassment and intimidation" in the commercial hubs of Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, Amnesty said in a statement. (Radio Australia, Oct. 4)
The use of the Triads against the protesters points to a convergence of interest between Hong Kong's traditional conservative elite and the Beijing rulers. Hong Kong magnate Allan Zeman made this clear when he told an interviewer: "The protests have polarized the community. Many people's businesses, many people's livelihoods depend on the streets being open and earning a living... There needs to be an end in sight. There is no system in the world that is a perfect political system. Hong Kong never had universal suffrage. We have to understand it from China's side. The Chinese government doesn't want this to spread to China, because then they can't keep China stable. If you understand China, sometimes you understand why they need to black out news reports, because they need to keep a good life."
In response, protester of Pa Sha of the Hong Kong-based Socialist Action group said: "The rich and the business sector have stood firmly against democratic rights in Hong Kong. The ordinary people are pro-democracy and have been pouring into the streets over the last week. Big business is trying to say that we are privileged enough and we don't need democracy. And even by their logic, if you compare us with China, it's like you are comparing hell with a lesser hell. Hong Kong is dominated by big business, tycoons, big corporations which are in league with the CCP and the Hong Kong government. And it is because of such an alliance between corporations and the government, the government over the years has implemented a lot of pro-business policies that have angered a lot of people. This is why people have come out on the streets in such anger." He cited soaring rents, stagnating wages, and the lack of a universal pension system or standard working hours in Hong Kong. (Chinaworker.info, Oct. 6)