Friday, November 8, 2019

Hong Kong mourns again 
"Rest on the other shore and wait for our good news.”

Back on June 15th, Hong Kong's most unpopular Chief Executive in its short history as a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China announced the suspension, but not withdrawal, of the hated extradition bill whose very proposal sparked off the months and months of unrest that Hong Kong has been beset by.  That same day (which happened to be the day before the largest ever protest march Hong Kong has ever seen), a 35-year-old protester plunged to his death at Admiralty -- and while it is not certain to this day if his death was accidental or a suicide, it is commonly accepted that he gave his life to the anti-extradition bill cause.

Amidst the reports of "the first anti-government protester death in Hong Kong", there were those who tried to suggest ways to write about it in ways that didn't make it sound like more anti-government protester deaths would be inevitable.  The longer the protests have gone on though, the sad fact of the matter is that other protester losses of life have become reality; with a number of (other) suicides coming amidst a noticeable growing mental health crisis in the territory.

At some point during the summer though, the fear of more protester suicides was supplanted by the fear as well as suspicion that the Hong Kong police had killed people and were disguising some of these deaths in the form of suicides.  This was tied to the events that took place at Prince Edward MTR station on the night of August 31st (where it has come to be believed by many that deaths occured but have been covered up), and also the goings-on at San Uk Ling Holding Centre (from which have filtered out reports of detainees having been sexually abused and physically tortured in other ways). 

Then, after people started getting shot by police officers -- initially by bean bag rounds and rubber bullets, then by actual live rounds on Communist China's 70th birthday -- came fears that protesters (the vast majority of whom are unarmed) would be killed by the police.  Considering the amount of protesting that has been done in the past five months or so, it is a miracle of sorts that it has not happened until now.  Sadly, however, that "lucky" streak ended today: with the death this morning of Alex Chow Tsz-lok, a 22-year-old university student who died from injuries sustained on Monday night after he fell from height during a police clearance operation in Tseung Kwan O.

The continued uncertainty over what caused him to fall -- with an early suggestion being that he was running away from tear gas fired by riot police being joined later by a suggestion that he had been trying to escape from pursuing riot police -- as well as accounts of the police having delayed the ambulance for him for up to 30 minutes absolutely do not help the situation.  But the probability is low indeed that any proper investigation will be conducted into the circumstances of Alex Chow's fall even though many observers are agreed that it should be carried out

Already this afternoon, protests have erupted in various parts of the territory in mourning of his death.  I fully expect this weekend to be similarly, if not more, protest-filled; with the spontaneity and emotional intensity of today's protests reminiscent of those that took place in the aftermath of the announcement of the Face Covering Regulation which caused a further escalation of protests and violence, the reverberations of which have continued into this month and week.  

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