Monday, July 02, 2012

July 1 March

How many people actually participated in the march?  Probably nobody knows for sure.  But there were surely a lot of people.  We went to Victoria Park just after 3 PM, and found a way into the middle of the football fields.  We didn’t manage to get out of Victoria Park until 5 PM, after toasting under the sun for 2 hours. All the time, we were hearing that progress of the march was slow, because there were so many people, and that the police refused to open up more of the lanes.

As soon as we got out of the park and spilled onto Causeway Road, I saw what the organizers meant. Row after rows of police were blocking off much of Causeway Road, for no obvious reason.  Traffic has stopped completely on Causeway Road.  Trams, buses, etc., were not moving.  So what was the point of blocking off huge sections of the road? 

Many of the marchers were complaining that the police were trying to make it difficult for the marchers, to frustrate them, to make them suffer under the sun, to discourage people from participating, or to persevere. Many of the police officers were probably just following orders.  The decision to suppress dissent, such as the harassment of students and reporters, comes from the top.  Many of the slogans and signs reflect that sentiment. 

At one point, some marchers broke through the police cordon and marched down the tram lanes in the middle of the road, previously blocked off.  There were no violence.  There were simply too many marchers for the police cordon to try to hold back.  Therein lies the most important lesson in nonviolent civic disobedience.  When enough people decide to disobey the government, even the most oppressive, militarily powerful tyrant will fall.  Some of the slogans attest to that fact - that each of us is not alone, that there are many “Is” before me, and many more “Is” behind. 

Each of us represent ourselves only, ultimately.  But enough of us are feeling strongly about the dishonesty of the politicians, the lack of progress in democracy, the dominance of big real estate developers, the suppression of dissent, the lack of care for the underprivileged, and of course, the death of Li Wang-Yang - that hundreds of thousands of people are coming out on the street to protest.   The government cannot ignore this.  It is a credit to the people of Hong Kong that we are insisting on protesting peacefully. 

We love Hong Kong.  We also love China.  We just do not want to be ruled by the Communist Party.  That’s quite clear. 

“If I do not stand up today, I may not be able to stand tomorrow (even if I want to)”.  How true is that? There is a strong feeling that the room for dissenting voices have shrunk in Hong Kong since 1997.  If we keep quiet, it will just get worst.  Freedom will not be given to us, we have to earn it the hard way.

We didn’t arrive at the brand new government headquarters at Admiralty until 8 PM.  People kept arriving, and there weren’t much space there, so we turned to leave, to make room for the late-comers.  Just when we were leaving, however, we were startled by very loud “bang”s.  Fortunately, it was only the fireworks starting.  So, for the first time in many years, we watched the fireworks on the street.  I found that some of the images resembled images of galaxies of outer space.  They were really good.

Amid all the fireworks, some shouted spontaneously and repeatedly, “down with Leung Chun-Ying”, “Tsang Yum-Kuen should go to jail”, ...  Such is the depth of anger. 


YTSL said...

Hi Stephen --

I got into Victoria Park yesterday around 3.20pm but managed to get out at 4pm. Got stuck in Jardine's Bazaar for quite some time but eventually made it to the Central Government Complex around 7.15pm. (And yes, I was among the people who ended up walking on the tram tracks on Hennessy Road...)

Long may people have freedom of speech and freedom to demonstrate non-violently in Hong Kong!

StephenC said...

Yes. If we want freedom, we have to show our resolve and earn it. It won't be given to us and it won't be easy. I am glad there are so many people who feel the same, and are willing to stand up and be counted.

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