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Hong Kong: #0101hk – New Year March for Democracy

Around 30-thousand Hong Kong residents spent the first day of the 2010 new year by marching in the street, demanding democracy and the release of Liu Xiaobo. To show their support for this rally, twitterers from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China together pushed the hashtag #0101hk to the top ten trendy topics in Twitter.

The new year rally was organized by the pan-democratic alliance to call for universal suffrage in Hong Kong. There are other demands, such as the release of mainland activist Liu Xiaobo, who advocated constitutional reform in China with the 08 Charter signature campaign and was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment on a subversion charge in Christmas day 2009.

0101liu

The Hong Kong government released its electoral reform consultation in November 2009. The document does not set a path and concrete time table for the universal suffrage of Legislative Council and Chief Executive in Hong Kong. Instead, it proposes the expansion of functional constituencies from 30 to 40 seats. The so-called functional constituencies are arbitrary professional and business sectors, which are composed of either individual or corporate / organization vote. The pan-democratic alliance believes that its expansion is a setback in democracy development. Two major political parties, the Civic Party (CP) and League of Social Democrats (LSD) decided to launch a symbolic referendum on universal suffrage by en masse resignation in five major districts from the legislation council. Although the Democratic Party refused to participate in the resignation campaign, they joined the rally to show their solidarity.

#0101hk

Netizens also help mobilize the rally. Before the demonstration, twitterers had agreed on the hashtag of #0101hk for reporting on the event and set up a tweet-wall for instant mobile report. Twitterers participated in the live report included @bachlau, @pingyanw, @tsuishui, @edwincheese, @sidekickick, @martinoei, @kursk, @stellakwok, @chonghead, @bencrox, @CHANVINCI, @kandhercat and many others. Their tweets were retweeted by mainland counterparts and the hashtag #0101hk entered top 10 of the twitter trending topic. Below is a selection of the micro reports according to the timeline:

14:00 pingyanw: 大遊行將於下午三時開始,現在已經有上千人到場。還我真普選,釋放劉曉波

The demonstration will start at 3pm, but there are thousands of people at the starting point. We want real democracy! Release Liu Xiaobo!

15:00 BachLau 現場口號:二零一二雙普選!廢除功能組別!不要假民主!釋放劉曉波!港人一條心!

Slogan are: Universal suffrage for Legco and CE in 2012! Abolition of the Functional Constituency! No to fake democracy! Release Liu Xiaobo! Hong Kong People United!

16:00 sidekick 一路上,我們都常在路口停下。大路上車根本不多,所以我們在喊:警察放行。

On the way, we are stopped by the police from time to time even there isn't much traffic, so we yell: Police let go.

16:00 sidekick民間電台的貼紙。不要當奴 #0101hk http://moby.to/tgljmt

Sticker from citizen radio: don't be Donald (the pronunciation of “Donald” in Cantonese is similar to “slave”)

0101sticker

17:00 sidekick: 大會說,遊行的隊尾仍在中環。(即是出發的地方)

The organizer said that there were still demonstrators at Central (meaning they haven't started at the gathering area)

17:30 edwincheese 皇后大道西有大批警察築起人牆 http://yfrog.com/4aeq2pj

In Queen's Road West, a large number of police form a human wall.

0101queenwestpolice

18:00 edwincheese 遊行隊伍被警察隔至中聯辦一條大馬路的對面 http://yfrog.com/3lr5gkj

Demonstrators are forced to protest across the road opposite the building of the Liaison office of the Central People's Government in HKSAR.

18:00 chonghead 警察挡住一支法西斯旗,在中联办不远处。 – http://moby.to/kb8jzc

The police try to stop a Fascist banner from approaching the Central government liaison office.

0101fascism

18:30 martinoei 警方阻止社民連手持棺材前進 #0101hk http://twitpic.com/w74qg

The police try to stop LSD's coffin from approaching (the Central government liaison office).

18:30 BachLau : 緊急!示威者衝破干諾道西鐵馬防線,非常混亂,各位注意安全 http://twitpic.com/w772c http://twitpic.com/w772e http://twitpic.com/w772b

0101chaos1

Urgent! Protesters have crashed the police line in Des Voeux Road West, the situation is very chaotic, please take care of your safety.

18:30 martinoei: 社民連示威者佔據德輔道西,德輔道西東西行交通中斷 #0101hk http://twitpic.com/w793i

The LSD has occupied Des Voeux Road, traffic paralyzed

18:45 chonghead 所有人在大喊:释放刘晓波!

Everyone chanting: Release Liu Xiaobo!

19:00 chonghead 黄毓民要求,把一台棺材送到中联办门口,然后和平散去。警察未有回复。

Wong Yukman (LSD) demands the police to let them deliver the coffin to the Central government liaison office, then they will leave peacefully. The police has not replied the demand yet.

20:00 CHANVINCI 棺材已達中聯辦,人民和平散去 #0101hk http://twitpic.com/w7atn

The coffin has been delivered and people are leaving peacefully.

Hong Kong police as political tool

Many bloggers complained about the barricades that block the protesters from approaching the Central government liaison office. Fongyun in his blogpost, Journey to west, asked:

我不明白為何我們堂堂正正去示威,不去正門叫口號。
竟然要「走後門」,而且還是後門的「對面街」。真夠寒酸的。

I don't understand why we could not go to the front door to express our opinion and had to yell across the street opposite the back door (of the Liaison Office). This is so ugly.

Jeff Au Yeung spent his birthday with this rally and he is also very angry about the police arrangement:

警察成了政治工具,我眼見很多可疑的事正在不住發生:尖沙嘴為了讓人看倒數,就慷慨地封了尖沙嘴的所有街道…。現在上萬人遊行,卻只封一條半條行車線,由得卡死的司機乘客指著遊行人士來罵。明知中聯辦是遊行隊伍目的地,那條德輔道西,竟仍然讓大車駛過,明顯就是利用交通作屏障,然後製造道路使用者與遊行人士的直接衝突。

Police has become political tool. I have witnessed so many incredible things: during the new year count down in TST, police has blocked all the streets in TST… Now that tens of thousand people were in the rally, they only opened one and half car line, creating conflicts between drivers and protesters. Even though they knew that Des Voeux Road West was the destination, they let big vehicles ran in the road. They intentionally made use of the traffic to block the rally and created conflicts.

Ip Iam Chong, a contributing reporter from inmediahk.net, had a more detailed description of the scene outside the Liaison office:

人群在中聯辦對面(即西區警署)的行人道上,稍為佔用了一點路面,便被警察用雙重鐵馬封閉起來。因此,人群根本無法集會,只有泛民議員搭了一個小得可憐的台,讓他們與路過的人揮手,大部份人只能往上環方向離去,而且,還要一直走到正街(即兩個街口之外)才能過馬路。

我帶著點好奇心,走到中聯辦的正門,即干諾道那面的入口。未看到正門,便已是鐵馬重重,警察重兵駐守,一般行人距離大門二十米處已無法前進。難為雷玉蓮昨日傍晚已守候在門外,孤軍作戰。

我再走回德輔道西,這次沿著中聯辦這邊的行人路走,距離中聯辦後門方向四十米左右,看到幾個市民舉著一面打了叉的法西斯旗幟,被警察擋住。不遠處,又看到人群與警察混在中聯辦門外(後門),原來是曾健成等人,似乎主要是社民連的人。

People were gathered at the pedestrian across the road of the Central Government Liaison Office (outside the western district police station). Police sealed off the protest area with double barricade and there isn't much space left for gathering. The Pan-Democrats had a small stage set up in the pedestrian path so that they could wave their hands at the passing by demonstrators. The majority of the protesters could only continue to walk towards Sheung wan until Sheng Street for crossing the road.

With some curiosity, I went to the front door of the Central Government Liaison Office, which was located at the Connaught Road. The whole area was protected by layers of barricades and a large number of police were standing by and waiting for order. Pedestrians were stopped by police when they were about 20 meters from the building. There I found out that a woman protester Lui Yuk-ling had been staying outside the Liaison office alone since late evening last night.

I walked back to Des Voeux Road West along the pedestrian on the side of the back door of the Liaison office and then I saw a number of protesters holding a fascist banner stopped by the police at about 40 meters from the Liaison Office. Some protesters have successfully reached the back door of the Liaison office. Most of them were members of LSD, such as Tsang Kin-sheng.

我在離去途中,從手機上不斷看到越來越多大陸網民在twitter上「推」有關報導,許多人也把這次遊行視作中國民主運動的一部份,當中更有不少有關香港 作為自由之都的美言。在政治高壓下的大陸,香港這次街頭行動成為一個民主想像的缺口。不知這個「缺口」會否成為中國民主運動的推動力呢?

When I was leaving the protest area, I saw many retweets of the protest reports on twitter. Many mainland twitterers regarded this demonstration as a part of Chinese democratic movement, and many tweets praised Hong Kong as a city of freedom. This street protest in Hong Kong is indeed a crack within the oppressive regime, however, we are yet to turn this crack into a more organized democratic movement.

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