More than 500 protesters demanding democratic elections free of China's influence were arrested in Hong Kong during a peaceful sit-in in the city's business district.
The sit-in followed a pro-democracy rally of a half a million Hong Kongers on July 1, the anniversary of the handover of former British colony Hong Kong to China in 1997. China has promised Hong Kong a direct vote for the next chief executive in 2017, but insists that a committee approve the candidates. Fearing that China could manipulate the committee to only choose pro-Beijing candidates, protesters demanded that citizens be allowed to nominate the candidates.
July 1 has become a day of protest for universal suffrage, democracy and autonomy from China. The scale of this march was similar to the July 1 rally back in 2003 when the Hong Kong government attempted to pass a set of national security laws that would criminalize seditious speech. The 2003 rally eventually forced the government to withdraw the legislation.
Below is a video made by House News on the eight-hour-long protest this year:
After the rally, student activists continued their protests outside Chief Executive CY Leung's office and on Chater Road, in what were considered rehearsals for the group Occupy Central with Love and Peace, which plans to peacefully take over the city's Central District if the Hong Kong government fails to come up with a political reform proposal free of any pre-selection of chief executive candidates.
Police began arresting protesters on Chater Road at 3 a.m. on July 2 and continued until midday. Those arrested were accused of participating in an illegal assembly and obstructing police officers from performing their duty.
Chow Wing Hong, the chief secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, wrote on his Facebook page (reposted on citizen media platform inmediahk.net) after he was arrested:
遮打道有不少香港人留守 期望 香港人真的明白，公民抗命 其實並非洪水猛獸。 我們每一個公民也可以參與其中。[…]
梁振英 人民是會怒的 當年青人也要奮起反抗時，必然會撲滅這個政權。
The police took action.
I was forced into a vehicle that looks like a tourist bus, with sealed windows.
Many Hong Kong citizens are still sitting on Chater Road.
I hope more Hong Kong people can understand an act of civil disobedience is not disastrous and every citizen can participate in it. […]
[Current Hong Kong Chief Executive] CY Leung, people are capable of expressing their anger.
When the youth rise to resist, the ruling bloc will eventual step down.
You can detain the people, but we won't be destroyed. The new generation of university students will take up their challenge. This act of civil disobedience is a struggle for the right of citizens to nominate their leaders and resist the White Paper that takes away our right to self-govern. This is the responsibility that this very generation of university students have to bear.
My fellow Hong Kongers, students should not be the only ones to take up the task. Every Hong Konger should step out with courage in the upcoming act of civil disobedience. You are the hope for the future of Hong Kong.
Not only young people participated in the rehearsal occupation. Inmediahk.net's citizen reporter interviewed 80-year-old Mr. Wong on Chater Road at 2 a.m.:
80-year-old Mr. Wong is one of the protesters at the sit-in overnight at Chater Road. He said he was touched by the courageous students. Even if there were guns and cannons, he would be fearless. He is waiting for the police to remove him.
While university students occupied Chater Road, secondary school students were sitting outside the chief executive's office. They hung a banner that read “Stay firm on citizen nomination” outside the government building.
Joshua Wong (pictured on the right in the above photo), a 17-year-old secondary school student and a core member of student activist group Scholarism, led the movement two years ago against the introduction of national education courses they considered as an attempt to brainwash students in favor of China. He explained on his Facebook page before the rally why he decided to lead the Occupy Central rehearsal:
Maybe you would say that I am too proactive and too radical. We frequently quote from “V for Vendetta”: “People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
For me, this is not just a slogan, but a belief.
We we cannot make [Chief Executive] CY Leung be afraid of the people's voice using conventional methods.
We need to search for a new path and break through the existing framework
July 1 is a good opportunity to send a warning signal to the ruler
We are forced to stage an act of civil disobedience
I cannot think of other ways to shake the government. […]
To bear the consequences of arrest and prosecution
This is a heavy burden for me, a 17 year old
But the students are now standing at the front lines of the democratic movement
We have to shoulder the responsibility of the path of civil disobedience.
The rally was a warning to Beijing authorities that the Hong Kong people will not stay quiet if their demands for democracy go unmet. Will they listen?
Follow our in-depth coverage: Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution
What a misleading title. Pro-democracy doesn’t mean unlawful protest. Peaceful sit-in? They have no right to be there and obstruct the lives of many others. Pro or not, their take on political systems do not grant anyone the right to violate the laws. The moment they think they have the right to do so, they already killed democracy and make it a tyranny. What do these people understand about democracy? Democracy does not equalize liberty. I bet you more than half of these people have no idea of what democracy really is.
BS right to protest is an inalienable right go tell the fifty cant boss you failed badly LOL
Most of these students who support occupy central don’t even know what ‘democracy’ really is. They think it is a holy solution to everything. They cannot even differentiate democracy from liberty. Yet, they are led by politicians with personal agenda to think they are fighting for a holier-than-thou course. These students shout and yell “justice”, “democracy” and think that these words are their shields. Words are empty when their actions are immature, unwise and underachieving. If you challenge what they do, they only come back to you with foul language, vulgarism, calling you a communist mob, but no intelligent, analytical arguments.
They are ambitious, passionate but refuse to acknowledge their lack of life experience and analytical skills and commercial knowledge to look at politics in broader perspectives with an international sense. These students have a good heart but they have been led by forces who sell them the idea of “justice” and “democracy” with an agenda that aims at doing nothing about justice and democracy.
What agitates me the most is not their ambition and heart. It is when they claim to speak for everyone in Hong Kong. Nobody speaks for everybody. That’s an obvious fact that they should be intelligent and rational enough to understand and apply to their actions. If these students refuse to even respond to criticism with rational arguments, how can they speak for Hong Kong people? How mature are they to lead this movement? Yelling and shouting might win you the appearance, it certainly won’t win you any real battles in a complex world with complex politics and power struggles.
If they cannot even speak for everyone, what gives them the right to occupy Central which belongs to everybody? They are killing democracy and liberty already before they have lost it.
hogwash write shorter tirades we know china pays you= BUSTED
Right to protest?? They were there illegally. It is unintelligent people like you who make dumbass, non-analytical comments who try to hijack our voice ad sane, wise people. Try to give me an intelligent argument instead of giving accusation.
its a charter right in every democracy or free country. you speak for the 50 centers losers and FREE TIBET
And by the way China pays me nothing. I was born in Hong Kong and live and work here. Paying tax too. You?
u got the 50 cent attitude therefore u can suffer our indignation and dismay you so richly deserve for your unkind remarks FREE HONG KONG