An independent inquiry into the Hong Kong protests is the funeral the extradition bill needs
First published: 09th August 2019
This open letter was published in the South China Morning Post
Dear Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor,
A funeral is a ceremony with legal and practical aspects for finally disposing of a corpse. You have said that the extradition bill is “dead”, but you have not held a “funeral”: the formal, legal withdrawal of the bill. Therefore, the remains slowly decay, infecting civil society.
I am disappointed that at your press conference on August 5, you told us nothing we do not already know. You left out the mob violence against civilians and excessive police force that will be an obstacle to any reconciliation, and you offered no way forward.
You said, “The only way to deal with violence is not to do anything that will give rise to more violence.” Have you told Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung? When the police concentrate on presenting themselves as a heavily armed, intimidating, faceless force that scatters crowds with tear gas and rubber bullets, what response do you expect?
I disagree with your assessment that “the nature of these violent protests has changed”. The protests started out nonviolent, and the vast majority of the protesters continue to be nonviolent. There has been an increase in violent elements, and violent attacks on protesters, so the change is in the amount of violence.
Another change is the diversification of protests. Different sectors of the community – mothers, airline workers, civil servants – have shown their support at different times, “Lennon Walls” have sprung up in many districts and on August 5 we had a general strike.
However, the destructive tendencies of the protesters continue to be focused on symbols of authority, not people or private property. Crowds part for ambulances and fire services. There is no looting of shops. Government buildings and symbols are a target, representing anger at your inadequate response.
On August 3, a video showed the mood of the protesters: a man with minor head injuries sat on the road, legs bound with cable ties. He was accused of attacking protesters, who then restrained him. In the video, he was handed over to the police. The protesters are not a mob, handing out violent retribution to those who oppose them. They took limited action to detain the suspect and still expected the police to do their duty.
Your way forward is to recognise the legitimacy of the protesters’ five demands. Give the extradition bill a nice funeral. I would rank an independent investigation, with the power to call witnesses, into the whole fiasco as the most important.
voter in the Hong Kong Island and IT Constituencies