HK Government ready to talk with Occupy but on Beijing's terms
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Hong Kong's government is ready to talk with Occupy protesters but only on terms set by Beijing, Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (pictured left) said at a press conference this afternoon. The meeting could be scheduled for next week but many Occupy Central members and students have already rejected the proposal as "useless".
For two weeks, the protest movement has occupied some central areas in Hong Kong, demanding full democracy for the territory. In 2004, Beijing had promised democratic elections for 2017. At the end of last August, China's National People's Congress decided that Hong Kongers would be able to vote for a new chief executive, but reserved the right to choose who and how many would run.
The long sit-in by students and pro-democracy groups has had the effect of rejecting precisely the conditions set by China. At the same time, protesters have been calling on Leung to resign for his inability to represent the city's wishes vis-à-vis Beijing.
Over the past year, some 800,000 people have taken part in other protests, voted in a referendum and read publications by Occupy Central movement. And yet, Leung never mentioned this in his meetings with Beijing.
For Siu Kam-To, 19, student at Hong Kong University, "They're saying that they want to negotiate without any preconditions from us, and yet they just set one - the framework from the National People's Congress. If the government insists on sticking to what the National People's Congress says, then I don't really see what negotiations can achieve."
Another very strange thing is that the chief executive is ready to talk with the Student Federation, but not with other student organisations, or with members of the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement, that is the same groups that have actively participated in the sit-in and worked for years on the issue.
According to another student, Leung "is just wearing the protesters out so that in the end, when the crowd lessens, he can crack down on us hard."
Indeed, in the past two weeks, police have engaged in gratuitous acts of violence against peaceful and helpless demonstrators.
Two days ago, a pro-democracy activist, Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, was beaten for several minutes, and then arrested. A video gone viral clearly shows such police brutality. In this case, seven police officers have been identified and suspended from duty.
Early on in the sit-in, hundreds of police agents attacked a group of students with batons, tear gas and pepper spray.
In Mong Kok, groups of thugs - including members of the Chinese mafia - attacked demonstrators as the police looked on.
Last night, clashes pitted police and youth trying to re-occupy an area the police had cleared yesterday.
The Catholic Church in Hong Kong supports calls for democracy and acknowledges the value of civil disobedience. Card Joseph Zen himself expressed his closeness to the students, including their nighttime sit-in.
However, he, like many other activists and pro-democracy advocates, believes that the time has come to end the occupation in order to fight for democracy by other means. Having mobilised so many Hong Kongers around the issue is already a great achievement.