10/01/2014, 00.00
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The "umbrella revolution": students turn their backs on flag raising for China’s National Day

by Paul Wang
The students boycotted the raising of the flag to mark the founding of the People's Republic of China. Some demand the release of political prisoners and recall Tiananmen. Leung Chun-ying keeps silent. China censors images and news reports on the demands of democracy. 13 Chinese who support Occupy Central arrested. Beijing warns embassies and consulates: do not interfere with the protesters. Support from Canada, Britain, Australia.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Thousands of demonstrators  continue to block the main roads of the territory on the fourth day of Occupy Central, demanding full democracy for the people of Hong Kong.

Yesterday evening the Admiralty - close to government offices - was overflowing with tens of thousands of people with multicolored umbrellas who braved a storm with a huge downpour  and thunder. The umbrellas have become the symbol of this peaceful revolution, having been used by protesters to defend themselves from fire hydrants and tear gas launched by the police in recent days, as well as from the sun.

Today, October 1, is also a national holiday to commemorate the founding of the People's Republic of China. This morning at 8am the flag-raising ceremony took place on Bahuinia square in the presence of the governor Leung Chun-ying. While he honoured China, a group of pro-democracy students turned their backs to the flag; others raised their arms crossing them (as if they were chained); others demanded the release of political prisoners in China and the overturning of the judgment of the Tiananmen massacre of June 4, 1989.

Leung Chun-ying made no reference to the people's demands for democracy, nor the impressive demonstrations of these days. The Chief Executive is responsible for the police violence against the young and defenseless and Occupy Central is demanding his resignation.

Censorship prevails in China: the newspapers and the television make no mention of the events in Hong Kong. The official television channel, without showing any image, only said that there are attempts to create "disorder" in the area by pressing on the government to "unreasonable demands."

China fears that the democracy "virus"  will corrode the mainland. Today, the China Human Rights Defenders released the news that Chinese police have arrested several activists to prevent them from going to Hong Kong to take part in the protests. At least 13 people were arrested and five threatened for expressing their support for Occupy Central.

According to some researchers, a virus of Chinese origin has attacked the smartphone telephone network in Hong Kong. It blocks communication, hacks into contacts, photos and passwords in both Android and Apple models. Many believe it is an attempt to target the democratic movement's communications.

In addition to suffocating the movement, China is also attempting to isolate protesters.  Yesterday  , the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent a letter of warning to the embassies in China and consulates in Hong Kong, asking them not to offer any support and not to be seen close to the demonstrators because of the dangers, created by "acts of violence and crimes".

In reality, the occupation of the center continues to take place in a peaceful and polite manner: once again this morning the protesters who slept on the streets cleaned the pavements and reached an agreement with the police to leave humanitarian corridors open for emergency passage of ambulances. Benny Tai, one of the leaders of Occupy Central, has publicly apologized to the residents of the occupied areas for the difficulties they cause. But - he said - "It is a short term inconvenience, while we are striving for long-term harmony in society".

In order not to disperse the group and not be led away by the police, the leaders of the democracy movement have asked demonstrators to focus the sit-in on Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok.

The occupation of these areas - the financial and commercial heart of the city-  risks eroding its business and earnings in this week's holiday - National Day - in which thousands of Chinese come down to Hong Kong for shopping. Some stores have complained about a reduction in sales of up to 50% in the first days of demonstrations. In any case, so afr the Hong Kong dollar and stock market  have not experienced any drastic collapse.

Many young Hong Kongers abroad, in Australia, Britain, Canada are organizing demonstrations in support of their fellow Democrats. The White House and British politicians have asked China to treat Occupy Central demonstrations with care and without violence.


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