Denied permission both for a march to the liaison office with Beijing and for a demonstration in the park of Chater garden. This weekend has a special meaning: it is the fifth anniversary of the Chinese announcement of a package of restrictive electoral reforms.
In Hong Kong, those who were awake shook. Last night, before dawn, dozens of Chinese military vehicles crossed the border from Shenzhen, heading towards the city. But it was not the much-feared repression of protests. As the regime’s press agency Xinhua explained, it was only the routine rotation of the communist army forces stationed in the former British colony, which is scheduled every year.
The fact is that Xinhua has also specified that the military has undergone specific training for Hong Kong, that they are ready to “protect national sovereignty” and that they “will make a greater contribution to maintaining the prosperity and stability” of the city. Compared to last year’s alternation, when the regime’s media explained that the size of the garrison would remain the same, this time there was no reference to the numbers, leaving doubt that Beijing took advantage of the exchange rate to increase them.
Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, another high-voltage weekend is expected. The authorities in fact, in a move with few precedents, have not authorized any of the demonstrations organized for Saturday by the Civil Human Rights Front (Chrf), the peaceful front of the protest. The motivation is the impossibility of guaranteeing public order. On August 18, for the previous event organized by the Chrf, the authorities had not granted the march, except, however, to give a green light to an assembly inside Victoria Park. When the park became saturated with people, the assembly turned into a fashion show, which ended in the evening without any kind of disorder.
Last weekend instead of two marches organized by different and regularly authorized groups degenerated into violent clashes between groups of masked protesters and police. The protest on Saturday, August 31, has a special meaning. That day, in fact, falls on the fifth anniversary of the approval of the law with which Beijing has “armored” the choice of the Hong Kong Chief Executive. Among the five demands of the protesters, the focus is therefore above all on the fifth, the most indigestible for the Communist Party: democracy. Last night the leader of the Chrf Jimmy Sham was also attacked by two men in a restaurant where he was having dinner with a friend, wounded in the arm.
The Chrf has criticized the authorities’ decision and announced that it will seek other ways to allow Hong Kong citizens to express their ideas. But if the police ban will discourage many citizens from being afraid of the legal consequences, it is unlikely to deter the most extreme of the protest. Indeed, it risks throwing more fuel on the fire. Confidence in the Chief Executive Carrie Lam is at a minimum, no one believes his “platform of dialogue”, anger at the police at the maximum, rightly or wrongly further fueled by the images of last weekend: the agents who (attacked from young men armed with bars) they extracted their guns, the arrest of a demonstrator of just 12 years, the decision of the metro company to close the stations near the demonstrations, read as a boycott.
Students of Hong Kong expected to boycott the classes. So far, this move involves 10 universities and more than 100 secondary schools. Kick off the campaign is scheduled on September 2 as student representatives said. It will happen at an assembly at the Chinese University, followed by a series of lectures across campuses. All this under the principle of “boycotting classes but not education”. A second large assembly, scheduled for September 13, involves a rally at Chater Garden in Central.