Concerned politicians and regular Hong Kongers gathered at
Admiralty's Tim Mei Avenue to rally for the missing booksellers
and "One country, two Systems" this afternoon
Thousands, some with umbrellas in hand, marched from Admiralty
While waiting to officially lodge a protest at the Liason Office,
we had to stand in an area where garbage had been strewn --
something which gives a good idea of what some folks are willing to do
to make things uncomfortable for peaceful demonstrators
Late last year, four Hong Kong booksellers specializing in books critical of China's political elite went missing. But it wasn't until a fifth, Paul Lee Bo, also appeared to suffer the same fate on December 30th that people started paying notice and getting really concerned.
For many Hong Kongers, the key difference is that, unlike his four Causeway Bay Bookstore colleagues (whose disappearance he had sought to raise an alarm about), Lee appears to have been abducted in Hong Kong itself by individuals working for -- or who are a part of -- the Mainland Chinese authorities, and without the consent (or even knowledge) of their Hong Kong equivalents. And if this is the case (which it very much looks like), the Mainland Chinese government has clearly violated the "One country, two systems" legal framework put in place after the 1997 Handover that's supposed to last for 50 years.
This afternoon, I took part in a rally protesting the disappearance of the five booksellers-publishers and the threat posed by the Mainland Chinese government to "One country, two systems". Together with thousands of other people, we assembled within spitting distance of the still closed-off Civic Square and then made our way, in the kind of peaceful, orderly and civilized manner that has come to characterize Hong Kong political protests, to China's Liason Office in Hong Kong over in Sai Wan.
Among the more well known faces among the crowd were Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau, Scholarism student activist Agnes Chow, Southern District Councilor Paul Zimmerman and former Chief Secretary Anson Chan. But by and large, the participants at today's protest looked to be ordinary Hong Kongers out to defend their city and the freedoms they enjoy (but which they are see as being increasingly threatened, notably by the Communist Chinese government).
Although there were times when the police, in the name of safety and security, temporarily halted sections of the march, it actually was pretty smooth going for the most part. Thus it was that the section of the heavily policed protest that I was with -- which was within visual range of the march's "head", and which I gauged to be around 20 minutes ahead of the protest's "tail" -- was able to walk from Admiralty to Sai Wan in around two hours.
When we got close to the Liason Office, however, we encountered a foul stench -- literally. Someone had strewn filled garbage bags in the area where the protesters gathered to wait for a Chinese government representative to come out from the imposing building to officially hear our demands for the immediate release of the five booksellers and the adherence to Hong Kong's Basic Law.
Maybe the message behind this dirty deed was that the protesters were/are trash. But I am more inclined to interpret this action as showing that those responsible are truly scum -- who do not realize that Hong Kong people are far better than they seem to think, and consequently deserve better than has been the case, including the right to not have to live in fear of "the midnight knock on the door", and also the right to have the genuine universal suffrage that the Umbrella Movement made clear that many Hong Kongers want.