Posts Tagged ‘Edward Leung Tin-kei’

Hong Kong: Declaration document saying Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of China is unnecessary, illegal and wrong

August 2, 2016

Sherif Elgebeily says the Electoral Affairs Commission runs the risk of being seen as suppressing dissent with its decision to bar a localist candidate from running

COMMENTARY/Opinion

By Sherif Elgebeily
South China Morning Post
 

Last weekend, the Electoral Affairs Commission decided to invalidate the candidacy of Hong Kong National Party member Chan Ho-tin for the upcoming Legislative Council election. The exact reasons behind this are unclear, but other candidates who also refused to sign a newly imposed declaration form have yet to receive notice on the validity of their candidacies, fuelling concern.

The pledge to uphold the Basic Law is a fundamental part of the eligibility for candidacy, as outlined on the nomination form; it is for this reason that the ineligibility of Democratic Progressive Party of Hong Kong’s Yeung Ke-cheong – who refused to sign the nomination form itself – is legally valid.

Should Chan have been disqualified?

On one level, the additional declaration form is obsolete, as it simply duplicates existing obligations. Worse, it also appears to contravene both the rule of law in Hong Kong and the Basic Law in its effect.

First, there is no legal basis for the demand of an additional form, and the invalidation of candidacy on these grounds is beyond the powers of the commission. Any reference to such a form is absent in the law governing the election procedure; moreover, an exhaustive list of requirements for nomination is provided for under Section 40 of the Legislative Council Ordinance. Any legally enforceable declaration or criteria for the nomination of individuals would require amendments of the existing law, a path which has not been followed.

The commission has no absolute power to create new law

The commission has no absolute power to create new law. The form is also undermined by the commission’s own guidelines, which make mention of five explicit criteria for eligibility of nomination. They do not include the submission of a declaration form. These paradoxes raise alarm over the rule of law in Hong Kong, notably the separation of powers between government bodies and the supremacy of the law in an administrative context.

Second, in disqualifying candidates who are seen to advocate independence, on the grounds of failure to complete the declaration form, the commission has barred popularly supported candidates from representing their supporters. This infringes not only the rights of Hong Kong citizens to be elected, but also that of all citizens to elect their own representatives, and amounts to a violation of Article 26 of the Basic Law. To do so on the grounds of political belief also falls foul of articles 27 and 32 on free speech and the freedom of conscience. It is at best contradictory for the commission to disqualify candidates on the grounds of undermining the Basic Law while violating that document in doing so.

 Edward Leung speaks to the press last month. Leung received votes from some 66,000 Hong Kong people in the New Territories East by-election this year. Photo: AFP

Chan’s disqualification reflects a worrying trend of the regulation of Legco members. By eliminating voices of dissent at the ballot-paper stage, the authorities appear to be telling selected political groups that their opinions are either not welcome or not legitimate.

This rigid stance defies reality in today’s Hong Kong. Not all localist groups can be labelled anomalies. This year, for example, Hong Kong Indigenous’ Edward Leung Tin-kei won nearly 16 per cent of the vote in the New Territories East – over 66,000 voters in real terms. These citizens deserve to be heard.

Perhaps more importantly, voting patterns show that first-time and younger voters have been decidedly more involved in the election process, not only through casting ballots but also standing themselves. A new generation – those born after the handover – have reached voting age, and they care more about the status of Hong Kong and the full realisation of Basic Law freedoms than they do about the platforms that have traditionally formed political manifestos and campaigns. The government has a duty to engage with this demographic.

In essence, the decision to invalidate Legco candidacies over political stances is tantamount to the invalidation of the legitimacy of the voice of the youth today. From both a legal and political standpoint, the declaration form was unnecessary, illegal and threatens the future of the rule of law in Hong Kong.

Sherif Elgebeily (@selgebeily) is Bingham Centre International Rule of Law Visiting Fellow 2016, and a lecturer with the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law

The Bingham Centre is a part of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law

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Hong Kong: Pro-China Election Rules Changes Again Bring Out The Protesters

August 2, 2016
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Anyone running for the legislature must sign a document pledging to support the notion that Hong Kong is an “inalienable” part of China — If you don’t sign, you cannot be part of the election….
By Reuters
Tuesday, 2 August 2016 14:53 GMT

* Candidates must sign form rejecting independence stance

* Opponents say that is assault on democracy

* Four candidates disqualified so far

By Tyrone Siu

HONG KONG, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Dozens of masked demonstrators tried to force their way into an electoral meeting in Hong Kong on Tuesday to protest against a new bar on anyone running for the legislature who refuses to declare the territory an “inalienable” part of China.

They were among hundreds of protesters gathered outside the meeting, a briefing for prospective parliamentarians, shouting for Hong Kong’s independence.

Inside the venue, some candidates who had been approved to run for election protested the decision to disqualify others.

Members of the League of Social Democrats and People Power tried several times to charge the stage and take the microphone before being pushed back by security, forcing the meeting to be suspended at least three times.

Politicians from other pro-democracy parties chanted: “No more political elimination!” and “Defend a fair election!”

The Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) said last month that potential candidates for the September Legislative Council election must sign an additional “confirmation form” declaring Hong Kong an inalienable part of China and acknowledging that advocating independence could disqualify them from the election.

Hong Kong has greater freedoms than mainland China and separate laws that were guaranteed for 50 years as part of a “one country, two systems” framework negotiated with the British when they handed back their former colony.

But there has been political unrest in recent years centring on Beijing’s refusal to allow fully democratic elections and its perceived meddling in the special administrative region.

Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong came out in support of the EAC’s new form while three Hong Kong politicians filed a request for an urgent judicial review.

So far the EAC has rejected four candidates. Activists have posted personal attacks on some of the EAC officers responsible for the decision, actions that the Hong Kong government has condemned.

Edward Leung Tin-kei, who was rejected as a candidate by the EAC on Tuesday, responded by saying the city was ruled by a “dictatorship”, local broadcaster RTHK reported.

Leung, a leader of the group Hong Kong Indigenous was one of the first street activists to move into mainstream politics when he won an unexpected 15 percent of the vote in a February legislative by-election.

He had signed the EAC’s confirmation form, saying his top priority was to get elected. (Writing by Clare Baldwin; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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Hong Kong Indigenous Met With American Diplomats

March 10, 2016

US consulate insists there was nothing underhand about their meeting, which could fuel claims of ‘foreign forces’ acting in the city

By Owen Fung
South China Morning Post

The US consulate has confirmed its diplomats met leaders of localist group Hong Kong Indigenous in an Admiralty restaurant on Wednesday, after photos of the encounter were published online.

Both sides said there was nothing secretive about the meeting.

The photos, published by news website Bastille Post on Wednesday night, showed three members of the group – including Edward Leung Tin-kei and Ray Wong Toi-yeung – meeting two consulate staffers.

The quintet reportedly chatted for around an hour and a half, speaking in Putonghua at times, before going their separate ways.

Ray Wong Toi-yeung and Edward Leung Tin-kei attended the meeting. Photo: Facebook / Ray Wong

Some mainland media and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying have both claimed that there were foreign forces behind the city’s pro-democracy protests of 2014.

But in response to a Post inquiry, the consulate stressed the meeting was no more than routine diplomatic work.

WATCH: Ray Wong discusses meeting with US consulate

Its spokesperson said: “Like diplomats around the world, in pursuit of our official duties, consulate general officials seek to understand trends and developments in Hong Kong by meeting with government and non-government figures across the full range of political views.”

Wong, convenor of Hong Kong Indigenous, meanwhile said the group had mainly explained their ideas to the diplomats during the meeting.

READ MORE: Hong Kong Indigenous leader Ray Wong arrested, as 1967 leftists condemn radicals who attacked police in Mong Kok

“[The meeting] was not some kind of secret meeting because it was held in a public place”, he said. “In the past, they could only know about localism or our organisation through the media.

Edward Leung Tin-kei (centre) was a Hong Kong Indigenous candidate for a recent Legislative Council by-election. Photo: Facebook / Ray Wong

“But in fact, many media organisations already have their stance … and what they write would be slightly biased. And so the most direct way is for us to tell them about our ideas and stance.”

He added that they had met staff from other consulates, but declined to say which.

Political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said it was “laughable” to suggest such a meeting was evidence of foreign influence.

READ MORE: Spoiling for a fight: Hong Kong Indigenous candidate Edward Leung upsets the apple cart

“This kind of contact is normal within the political circle. Prominent pro-establishment figures and local officials would also frequently meet with diplomats”, Lau said.

“It’s being publicised on purpose. The hidden agenda is to lead the public to believe [localists] are bringing in foreign influence … in order to discredit them politically,” he added.

Includes video:

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/1922922/not-some-kind-secret-meeting-hong-kong-indigenous-leaders

Hong Kong After Mong Kok Melee — Over Eager Police “Round Up The usual Suspects” — Police search home without a court warrant

February 10, 2016

Student-led group Scholarism confirms member Derek Lam Shun-hin was arrested but claims he neither attacked police nor committed violent acts

By Tony Cheung
South China Morning Post

A member of the student-led group Scholarism was arrested at Hong Kong International Airport’s departure hall on Wednesday morning, on suspicion of involvement in the riot in Mong Kok on Monday night.

Confirmation from the group came about an hour after police said they arrested a man related to the unrest in Mong Kok.

In a message sent by Scholarism, a spokesperson said the arrestee was Derek Lam Shun-hin.

READ MORE: 61 nabbed for Mong Kok riot, says Hong Kong police chief, with more arrests to come

The group demanded Lam’s immediate release, saying the student was only in Mong Kok to buy food from street hawkers.

“He left Mong Kok at about 2.15am on Tuesday morning, and did not attack any policemen or did anything violent,” the message stated.

The spokesperson added that Lam was leaving Hong Kong to travel to Taipei with his family.

Scholarism later released another message, accusing the police of searching Lam’s home without a court warrant.

“It was lucky that Lam’s lawyer arrived three minutes after Lam and the police entered Lam’s home, and the police was forced to abort the search,” a spokesperson said. “This episode shows that the police have abused their power to the extreme, and ignored protocols in their work.”

READ MORE: Housing, employment, education problems led Hong Kong youth to ‘resort to violence’, says Regina Ip, as others propose a water cannon for riot control

Lam had previously been charged with common assault for his involvement in the seizure of Civic Square in Admiralty in the run-up to the Occupy movement of 2014. His trial was scheduled to start on February 18.

It was understood that Lam was detained at Sau Mau Ping police station in Kowloon.

On Scholarism’s claim that the police searched Lam’s home without a warrant, a police spokeswoman told the Post that “the police followed protocol and obtained the arrestee’s consent before searching his home in Western district, but that during the search the arrestee’s lawyer requested to meet the arrestee, and he left his home accompanied by officers”.

The spokesperson added that police searched Lam’s home again later after obtaining a court warrant.

READ MORE: Four injured in possible hawker-related clash in Hong Kong public housing estate

In a message sent to media shortly before 6pm Wednesday, a Scholarism spokesperson quoted Lam’s lawyer as saying that Lam would be charged with “taking part in a riot” under Section 19 of the Public Order Ordinance.

According to the ordinance, an unlawful assembly is a riot when a participant commits “a breach of the peace”. The offence carries a maximum jail term of 10 years.

The police had yet to confirm whether anyone would be charged for taking part in a riot, and a police source would only state that no charge had yet been made, noting the police could detain suspects for up to 48 hours. The source added that the investigation was ongoing.

Scholarism’s Derek Lam Shun-hin in August last year holding up paperwork relating to his being charged with common assault in the seizure of Civic Square at the start of the Occupy movement of 2014. Photo: Edward Wong

It was understood that no one in Hong Kong had been charged for taking part in a riot since 2000, when more than 20 inmates were convicted and jailed for taking part in a melee that broke out at Hei Ling Chau Addiction Treatment Centre.

After Lam’s arrest, the police arrested another man, in Sham Shui Po, in relation to the Mong Kok riot, and seized evidence including five walkie-talkies at his home.

Another group, Hong Kong Indigenous, whose leader Edward Leung Tin-kei was arrested in relation to the riot, claimed on its Facebook page that police officers had been “arresting and trying to force their way into homes” of the group’s members.

READ MORE: Hong Kong journalist claims police attacked him while he reported on Mong Kok riot

It said about 20 members or volunteers of the group had been arrested to date.

The police only said that they had arrested the 64th suspect related to the Mong Kok riot, in Sheung Shui, at about 2pm on Wednesday. But the force had yet to respond to the two groups’ accusations or disclose further details about the latest arrests.

Since the end of the unrest, 55 men and 9 women, ranging in age from 15 to 70, were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the Mong Kok violence. They were alleged to be involved in offences such as participating in unlawful assembly, attacking police officers, refusing to be arrested, obstructing the police’s work or carrying weapons.

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/1911424/former-occupy-activist-nabbed-hong-kong-airport-over

Related:

Hong Kong’s New Year Riot — An Anti-China Rage?

February 9, 2016

China Digital Times

As Hong Kong’s annual Lunar New Year street parade was coming to a close, violent clashes between police and protesters broke out in the Mong Kok area of the Yau Tsim Mong district at around 10:00 p.m. on Monday. The clash reportedly began as hawkers protested new city-wide regulations against street-food vending.

This post will be updated regularly, with the latest entries at the top.
1:45:25 PM PST, Feb 9, 2016

At Tech in Asia, C. Custer notes that the violence in Hong Kong has been well-covered by state-owned Chinese media, and that censors are taking a “light touch” approach to regulating social media discussion of the event:

News of the conflict is not being censored in mainland China. In fact, quite the contrary: the riots have been prominently covered by most of China’s state-owned media outlets. But discussion of the riots hasn’t been totally free on Sina Weibo; Hong Kong University’s Weiboscope tool reveals that a small number of posts related to the riots have been censored.

A lot of what’s getting deleted by censors is related to the gunshots that Hong Kong police reportedly fired. Weibo posts suggesting those shots were fired at protesters are being deleted, which is understandable given that there’s no evidence that happened. But retweets correcting those posts and clarifying that the shots fired were warning shots have also been censored, as have posts that say the police aimed guns at rioters, but did not fire. Additionally, comments that are overly critical of mainland Chinese policies seem to be getting censored. This one, for example, saying China’s one country, two systems policy has failed got hit with the banhammer. [Source]

12:59:18 PM PST, Feb 9, 2016

One of the first arrested was Edward Leung Tin-kei, a member of the localist group Hong Kong Indigenous, the organization that initial media reports credited with attracting supporters prepared for violence. The South China Morning Post’s Jennifer Ngo profiles the group and examines their role in the violent clash:

The group is fielding a candidate in the Legislative Council by-election scheduled in three weeks, with the candidate Edward Leung Tin-kei, seen at the forefront of last night’s protest, shouting into a loudspeaker, before he was arrested according to a Facebook post by the group at 2.16am.

Although there could well have been other groups that joined forces with the group as the night unfolded, attention is now on Leung and his group.

Hong Kong Indigenous, formed in January by mainly post-’90s-born Hongkongers, gained prominence during sometimes violent protests against cross-border parallel traders in Yuen Long, Tung Mun and Sha Tin.

[…] Together with other localist groups such as Civic Passion and Hong Kong Localism Power and National Independent Party ­– involved in a suspected bomb planted in a rubbish bin outside the Legislative Council last year ­– Hong Kong Indigenous had gained popularity in recent years, in parallel with a growing desire in Hong Kong to curb Beijing’s rising influence in the city. […] [Source]

While the protests that led into violence saw the regulation of street-food vendors as a catalyst, Stephen Moss explains how “there’s more to the #FishballRevolution than just snacks.” From The Guardian:

But why are young political activists willing to go to the wall for fishballs? “China has had really wonderful street food for at least 800 years, and it is part of the culture of Hong Kong,” says Chinese food expert Fuchsia Dunlop, author of Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China. “It’s affordable and it’s fun. The street stalls are very much part of Hong Kong culture, but they’ve been disappearing as part of the process of redevelopment and urban renewal.”

[…] The battle against gentrification has been added to the stew of protests against a government that, while officially autonomous, is reliant on Beijing. On Hong Kong island to the south, that battle has already been lost, with office blocks and swish apartments replacing the old way of life. But Mong Kok, with its narrow, congested streets and famous markets, has so far resisted the bulldozers.

“Street food is always a bit chaotic,” says Dunlop. “In mainland China, a lot of lively, unregulated street life has been swept away in the drive to modernise cities.” She points to the irony of Chinadisrespecting its street food tradition at the same time as street food is becoming increasingly popular in the west. The stalls are an especially potent symbol in Hong Kong. “It has an incredibly foodie culture,” says Dunlop. “Everybody talks about food all the time, and it’s refreshingly unsnobby. Even very rich people will go everywhere – from very smart, expensive restaurants to little street stalls that do one thing particularly well.” [Source]

Smoke rises as protesters set fires against police in Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Feb. 9, 2016. Vincent Yu, AP

More on the political anxiety underlying both yesterday’s “Fishball Revolution” and the 2014 “Umbrella Movement” from Quartz’s Richard Macauley and Heather Timmons:

[…T]he violence appears to be borne out of a deep-seated mistrust about the direction Hong Kong is headed, under the leadership of a government that too often looks like it listens to Beijing more than its own people.

[…] Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Movement” shut down the center of town for months in 2014, ending without the government giving any ground on the voting rules that sparked the protests in the first place. But anger at the Beijing-backed government has simmered below the surface. Mong Kok was the site of a parallel protest in 2014 that expanded beyond students to retirees and blue-collar workers concerned about the Communist Party’s reach into Hong Kong.

Since then, Beijing’s grip on the city has only tightened. Once thought impossible, some Hong Kong residents were recently abducted from Hong Kong soil by mainland Chinese authorities, to be brought in for questioning across the border. Their “crime” was operating a bookstore that dealt in gossipy titles full of stories about China’s top leaders. […] [Source]

 

12:43:46 PM PST, Feb 9, 2016

Reuters, via the Straits Times, cites Hong Kong police commissioner Lo Wai Chung with statistics on arrests and injuries during the violence that are significantly higher than reported in initial coverage:

Fifty-four people were arrested following a bloody clash on Tuesday (Feb 9) in which riot police fired warning shots to disperse an angry crowd when authorities tried to move illegal street vendors from a working-class Hong Kong district.

[…] Nearly 90 police sustained injuries ranging from fractured bones to lacerations and bruises and 54 protesters were arrested, he said.

[…] Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying told reporters at a hastily called news conference that the city’s government strongly condemned the violence.

Secretary for Security Lai Tung Kwok said police were investigating “indications” that the clashes had been organised. When asked about the warning shots, he said police had taken all necessary actions. [Source]

Coverage from the BBC cites a police official with an even higher number of arrested:

Police said dozens of officers and four journalists were among those hurt.

Nine women and 52 men have been arrested, all aged between 15 and 70. They are suspected of offences including unlawful assembly, assaulting police and possession of offensive weapons. [Source]

 

6:34:45 PM PST, Feb 8, 2016
With the standoff now reportedly over, police officials have said that 24 were arrested amid the clash, and that 48 officers were injured by thrown objects.

At Reuters, Clare Baldwin reports on the violence that unfolded in Hong Kong:

Riot police used batons and pepper spray early on Tuesday to disperse crowds after clashes erupted when authorities tried to move illegal street vendors from a working-class district, the worst street violence since pro-democracy protests in late 2014.

Protesters hurled bricks at police as scuffles broke out, while other demonstrators set fire to rubbish bins in the streets of Mong Kok, a gritty neighborhood just across the harbor from the heart of the Asian financial center.

[…] The clashes broke out after police moved in to clear “hawkers”, or illegal vendors who sell local delicacies, trinkets and household goods from makeshift streetside stalls.

The hawkers, long a common sight on Hong Kong’s bustling streets, quickly attracted a strong social media following under the hashtag #FishballRevolution.

[…] Street tensions appeared to have eased off, but radical protesters and “localists” demanding greater Hong Kong autonomy have vowed to keep fighting even as China shows signs of tightening its grip. [Source]

At the AP, Kelvin Chan reports that the standoff in Mong Kok shows lingering tension from the2014 pro-democracy protest movement:

The violence is the worst in Hong Kong since pro-democracy protests rocked the city in 2014, leaving a growing trust gap between the public and authorities.

[…] The hawkers were backed by activists who objected to the crackdown over concerns that Hong Kong’s local culture is disappearing as Beijing tightens its hold on the semiautonomous city.

The latest scuffles underscore how tensions remain unresolved more than a year after the end of pro-democracy protests that gripped the city. Mong Kok, a popular and densely populated shopping and entertainment district, was one of the neighborhoods where activists occupied streets for about 11 weeks in late 2014, capturing world headlines with their demands for greater electoral freedom. [Source]

 

6:07:48 PM PST, Feb 8, 2016
Twitter users report that the clash is over, and that Mong Kok station has reopened:

RTHK reports that while the streets are now clear, some areas of Mong Kok are still under police lockdown. Also on Twitter are reports of journalist harassment and injury amid the clash:

 

3:15:31 PM PST, Feb 8, 2016

The hashtag #FishballRevolution (#魚蛋革命) is being used to cover the ongoing event on Twitter:

The festivities took a turn for the worst around 10pm, when police donned riot gear in a bid to clear hawkers selling their wares along a main thoroughfare. The crowd lobbed glass bottles and ceramic pots at law enforcement, who responded with pepper spray. Dramatic video footage shot by bystanders shows skirmishes between law enforcement and hawkers on the streets of Mong Kok, a busy residential and commercial part of Hong Kong.

[…] Police spokesperson Stephen Yu Wai-kit told reporters that police only intervened because Food and Environmental Health officers had been unsuccessful in their efforts to shut down the hawkers in Mong Kok.

[…] The unrest provided a window of opportunity for another group trying to make their message heard. Hours after the unrest began, Hong Kong Indigenous, a radical localist political group, announced on Facebook that Edward Leung Tin-kei, their candidate for the upcoming Legislative Council by-elections, would be marching in the Mong Kok night market, and called on supporters to join.

The post urged people who planned to join the march to bring eye masks, face masks, and protective gear. Tin-kei was arrested at around 2am. [Source]

VICE reports that police used pepper spray against protesters who were throwing bottles and pots, and notes that other political groups took advantage of the unrest to call their supporters to the scene:

After The New Years Riot: What Next For Hong Kong?

February 9, 2016

Fifty-four people were arrested and dozens injured in clashes that began after police tried to clear hawkers from the streets on the first night of Chinese New Year.

Hong Kong police shot “warning shots” to move the crowd back

By NSHIRA TURKSON

After six hours of conflict early Tuesday, street fires in the Mong Kok neighborhood burned among overturned bins, trash piles, and bricks pulled free from sidewalk.

The fires were only part of the protest-cum-riot in the Hong Kong district that culminated in a reported 54 arrested, and an estimated 90 police officers, and unreported number of protesters, injured.

The conflict began around 10 p.m. Monday night, out of police efforts to clear hawkers from street celebrations on the first night of Chinese New Year. The vendors typically sell food—the hashtag #Fishball Revolution emerged from the protest, inspired by a food popularly sold by vendors—and other items out of unlicensed carts. But when police came to clear them out, they were met by protesters and activists who gathered to defend the vendors. The protest escalated into a riot, according to reports, and some protesters threw bricks and bottles at police, who responded with batons, pepper spray and, eventually, two warning shots.

At a news conference following the riot, which ended around 8 a.m., Lai Tung-kwok, Hong Kong’s secretary for security, said police took “all necessary actions.” He said authorities were investigating the possibility the riot was premeditated. Edward Leung Tin-kei, the leader of Hong Kong Indigenous, a group that advocates greater autonomy for Hong Kong, was arrested during the protests.

Leung Chun-ying, Hong Kong’s chief executive, and various political partiesdecried the riot, while some protesters and civilians condemned the police response as heavy-handed.

The riot was the most violent since the pro-democracy unrest in 2014.

Lai, the secretary for security, discouraged further protests as the New Year festivities continue in Hong Kong.  Police with riot gear are stationed in Mong Kok for Tuesday night’s celebrations.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/02/hong-kong-riot/462018/

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Hong Kong ‘Fish Ball Revolution’ Erupts into Violent Crackdown Mainland China Leaders Would Admire

February 9, 2016

Hong Kong ‘Fish Ball Revolution’ Erupts in Violent Crackdown. Vincent Yu, AP photo

Violent clashes erupted overnight in Hong Kong after protesters defended unlicensed food vendors, set up for Chinese New Year celebrations, from being shut down by police.

The night market has become popular over the years, with officials usually turning a blind eye. But police decided to issue tickets this year.

PHOTO: Riot police move forward to the protesters on a street in Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Feb. 9, 2016.

Reports of a crackdown against the hawkers who sell fish balls and other local food delicacies quickly spread on social media along with the hashtag #fishballrevolution.

More than 100 individuals are believed to have taken part and police told reporters today that 54 were arrested “on suspicion of assaulting and obstructing officers, resisting arrest and public disorder,” despite instructions to disperse, which included two midnight warning shots as heard in the video below.

“The government strongly condemns such violent acts,” Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told reporters, adding: “The police will apprehend the mobs and bring them to justice.”

Smoke rises as protesters set fires against police in Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Feb. 9, 2016. Vincent Yu, AP

The violence, which took place in a working-class neighborhood called Mong Kok, was the worst that the city had experienced since the wave of pro-democracy protests in 2014 known as the #umbrellarevolution.

The vendors’ cause resonated with pro-democracy activists because of their concerns that local culture is disappearing as China tightens its hold on the semi-autonomous city.

Protesters look on behind a fire set by them at a junction at Mongkok district in Hong Kong, Feb. 9, 2016. Bobby Yip/Reuters

Hong Kong’s “Localist” movement activists, who are calling for more autonomy from Beijing, were among those taking part in the protest. The group said on its official Facebook page that its candidate for local council, Edward Leung Tin-kei, had been arrested.

Police later said they did not expect another riot today when fireworks have been planned, but they will increase the numbers of officers on patrol as a precautionary measure.

Rioters throw bricks at police in Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Feb. 9, 2016. Vincent Yu/AP Photo

Forbes: Hong Kong’s “Fishball Revolution” — Chief Executive Calls it a “Riot”

February 9, 2016

By Robert Olsen
Forbes

Protesters throw bricks at police in Hong Kong. (Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)

Running battles between police and protesters broke out Monday evening in one of Hong Kong’s most densely populated neighborhoods, leaving dozens of people injured and arrested on the first night of the Lunar New Year.

In the worst violence to hit the city since pro-democracy protests in 2014, rioters were seen setting fires and throwing bricks, bottles and other projectiles at police. Television footage showed an officer firing two warning shots into the air and then aiming his gun at a crowd of protesters at one point.

Acting district commander Crusade Yau Siu-kei, said 44 people were injured in the clashes and 24 people were arrested.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying condemned the violence, describing it as a “riot,” and promised to bring the mobs to justice.

The trouble first erupted when police moved in to clear street food vendors from makeshift stalls in Mong Kok, a working-class neighborhood in the heart of the city.

The police said protesters had ignored their warnings to clear the streets and “shoved” the officers at the scene. “To ensure public safety and public order, Police took resolute actions, including using baton and pepper spray, to stop the unlawful violent acts.”

In what has since been dubbed the “Fishball revolution,” the vendors were supported by local activists who appear to have been led by a group called Hong Kong Indigenous. The group’s leader, Edward Leung Tin-kei, was arrested in the early hours of this morning, according to a Facebook post. Leung will be representing Hong Kong Indigenous as a candidate in the upcoming by-election for the city’s Legislative Council.

In recent years, a number of “localist” groups have formed in response to Hong Kong’s culture and way of life gradually being eroded by Beijing’s meddling in local affairs. Frustrated by the lack results achieved through decades of peaceful protests, the groups are promising to step up their actions in order to put greater pressure on the government.

In late 2014, Mong Kok was the scene of numerous clashes during the pro-democracy protest known as the Umbrella Movement or Occupy Central that lasted for 79 days.

Follow me on Twitter: @Rob_Olsen

Hong Kong: thousands expected to gather for New Year fireworks as government stares down protesters after bloody riot

February 9, 2016

Police claim radical elements with makeshift weapons and shields set fires in a riot, following a hygiene and license crackdown on street food hawkers

By Chris Lau, Danny Lee, Joyce Ng and Clifford Lo
South China Morning Post

A crackdown on street food hawkers in Mong Kok escalated int a riot: Chief Executive CY Leung has condemned the violence. Photo: Edward Wong

Hong Kong is preparing for another mass-gathering tonight as Lunar New Year fireworks will bring thousands to the shores of Victoria Harbour, after Mong Kok hosted six hours of running street battles between police and protesters.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has warned those protesters who weren’t swept up in a mass of arrests today linked to the riot not to come to the fireworks, where security has been reinforced.

The chaos has subsided but the signs of a fracas are still on the streets after a night of violence that saw the police opening fire with two “warning shots”, after protesters launched projectiles like flower pots, bricks and glass bottles and flaming objects.

The event that seemed to have sparked the mob action, which police have described as a “riot”, was a crackdown on illegal street food hawkers before police were brought in, including their tactical unit.

The Hong Kong government “strongly condemned” the protesters, with CY Leung standing by the police handling of incident, saying the use of warning gunshots showed the force’s “maximum restraint”.

Asked if the police were justified in firing warning shots, Leung said rioters attacked policemen who were already injured and lying on the ground, which was shown in TV footage.

Asked why the government classified it as a riot, he said: “Any big city facing a similar nature of events would classify it as a riot, not just for the government but society as a whole.”

READ MORE: Hong Kong New Year fireworks will not be cancelled – Chief Executive CY Leung condemns Mong Kok protesters, supports police tactics

In the morning, after the night of destruction, rubbish and debris lay everywhere on the streets as an acrid stench filled the air after metal dust bins burned.

Even as late as 8am, an angry mob could be spotted at the intersection of Sai Yee Street and Shantung Street, continuing to hurl bricks and glass bottles into the police lines as curious residents watched from the bleachers and commuters walked to work.

Police are due to hold a press briefing later on today. Earlier, police commissioner Steven Lo Wai-Chung visited some injured policemen on the scene but would not comment on the police actions.

From Monday night to early morning on Tuesday, Mong Kok, the scene of some of the worst unrest during the Occupy protests in 2014, was again plunged into chaos as more than 100 unidentified protesters – some of them so-called ‘localists’, identified by their t-shirts who campaign for varying degrees of independence for Hong Kong – launching sporadic brick and bottle attacks on police, who retaliated with pepper spray.

Fires were also reported to have been lit in the area surrounding Shantung and Soy Streets. The government has advised motorists to avoid the area.

Police have labelled the escalations last night a riot. Photo: Edward Wong

In brief:

  • Mong Kok streets in riot
  • Health inspector crackdown on hawkers preceded riot
  • Protest began about 10pm, riot started around 2am
  • Hong Kong Indigenous group believed to be linked to protest
  • 23 arrested, 48 officers injured
  • Four journalists injured, some claim to have been hurt from police batons
  • More than 100 rioters counted
  • Mong Kok MTR closed until late morning

Casualties

Crusade Yau Siu-kei, deputy Mong Kok district commander, confirmed this morning officers fired two warning shots during the “riot”.

“Radical elements have come with self-made weapons and shields and clashed with police,” Yau said. “The situation ran out of control and became a riot.”

He said the “mob” continued to throw bricks, rubbish bins and glass bottles at a close distance.

Police said 48 police officers were reported injured, with glass and hard objects deemed the likely weapons.

READ MORE: Mong Kok riot eyewitness: ‘I was hiding in a corner when a brick came flying towards me’

Police arrested 23 men and a woman, on charges including assaulting police, resisting arrest, disorder in public place and obstructing a police officer.

At least four journalists were reported injured, including those from TVB, Ming Pao, RTHK and a cameraman from Cable TV.

Police clashed with protestors last night in Mong Kong. Photo: Edward Wong

“Warning shots”

The two warning shots were fired by an unspecified number of officers at 2am, Yau said. “Because many rioters were attacking police with hard objects and seriously threatened their lives, there was no choice but to protect colleagues” and own safety, he added.

A police source said: “Officers were under attack and a police officer fired two shots into the air’’ adding that protesters were “rioters” and trouble makers. Later, an officials statement from the police said officers had taken ‘’resolute action’’

Shortly before gunshots were fired, pallets and rocks were hurled at a team of traffic police officers. A senior constable was hit with a pallet, causing him to fall to the ground. He said he felt dizzy but some protestors continued charging him and hurled rocks at him.

Protestors and police in front of a Mong Kok McDonald’s. Photo: Edward Wong

Police have not ruled out the notion the riot was “organised”, he said, noting that protesters arranged vehicles to transport equipment. Police will continue the investigation.

The source added that protestors seemed prepared,being well equipped with home-made shields, goggles, helmets and gloves.

Police hosed down protestors with pepper spray. Photo: Edward Wong

Social media reports said among those arrested was Legislative Council election hopeful, Edward Leung Tin-kei, spokesman for localist group Hong Kong Indigenous.

Early this morning

At least one group of 100 protesters were engaged in skirmishes with the police. Eye-witnesses said paving stones were being ripped up and some objects were being hurled at officers.

At 6am the police released a statement which said: “Police reiterate that any acts endangering public order and public safety will not be tolerated. The Hong Kong community regard that the public should express their views in a rational and peaceful manner. Police will take enforcement actions decisively on law-breaking behaviours.”

IN PICTURES: violence erupts in Mong Kok during protest on first night of Lunar New Year

Trouble first flared shortly after 2am when what had begun as a protest by angry food hawkers in Portland Street who had been targeted in a food and hygiene crackdown, spiralled out of control.

A TVB video showed the moment police drew guns on protesters and fired two warning shots into the air on Argyle Street around 2am. An SCMP reporter on the scene also witnessed and heard two shots fired from a gun.

Bricks broken in half then thrown at police officers. Photo: Chris Lau

Student Julia Fung described the night as shocking, but said she was more afraid of the police than the riot.

The student said when she was taking a picture of a girl being pinned down to the floor she was hit by a police baton to her back.

You can feel rage in the police officers’ eyes
JULIA FENG

“You can feel rage in the police officers’ eyes towards the protesters,” she said

She said protesters had become more radical due to a ramp-up in government heavy-handedness using the example that a fracas occurred over hawkers selling fish ball on the street.

“Not only were batons and pepper spray used … police were firing gun shots,” she said.

She said the relationship between police and the people had hit a new low.

How it happened – overnight coverage from our team in Mong Kok

More than a hundred people were involved in the riot, gathering at different points and setting fire to rubbish bins in the streets, he said.

Both lanes on Nathan Road were blocked from south of Argyle Street. Police warned they would use “appropriate force” while asking and pushing people to move to the footpath.

With volleys of objects, notably bricks and other objects, injuries were likely sustained on both sides.

Protestors were also seen trying to push over a minibus-stop sign.

READ MORE: Timeline and map: how the Mong Kok street hawker hygiene clampdown became a full-scale riot

The night’s violent clashes unfolded around 10pm on the first day of Chinese New year when police attempted to clear Portland Street as part of a city-wide clampdown on hawkers. The crowd reacted by throwing glass bottles and flower pots and police used pepper spray at one point.

The commotion broke out at about midnight early Tuesday when police put on protective gear, including helmets and shields, to fend off the unhappy crowd that flung objects at them. A standoff ensued.

Police source said shots fired into the air were justified as they felt their lives were at risk. Photo: Edward Wong

Hong Kong Indigenous, a localist group that is fielding a candidate in a Legislative Council by-election in three weeks, is involved in the protest.

The candidate Edward Leung Tin-kei has been arrested, according to a Facebook post by the group at 2.16am.

Shortly after midnight-and about three hours after the chaos broke out, the group announced on Facebook that it would “exercise” Leung’s “power” as an election candidate to hold an election march in the Mong Kok night market. The group said they would not need to notify the police because the number of marchers would be less than 30.

A protestor on the ground. Photo: Edward Wong

It called on people to go out in support and bring along eye masks, face masks and protective gear.

Before Leung’s arrest, he was seen standing in the front of the crowd shouting slogans through a loudspeaker. Some protesters were wearing the group’s blue tracksuits with its name printed.

In a police statement released at 3.23am, it “strongly condemned” the clashes in Mong Kok.

The night’s violent clashes unfolded around 10pm on the first day of Chinese New year when police attempted to clear Portland Street as part of a city-wide clampdown on hawkers. The crowd reacted by throwing glass bottles and flower pots and police used pepper spray at one point.

The police defended its handling of the chaotic scenes for which it took “resolute actions” including the deployment of batons, pepper spray to stop “unlawful violence acts.” However, it also failed to draw reference to the two warning gunshot fired earlier tonight.

An hour earlier, a police spokesman said they had “no information” on gunshots fired in Mong Kok at present.

READ MORE: #Fishballrevolution emerges as Hong Kong’s social media users react to violent Mong Kok riot

In the police’s narrative of the chaotic scenes, it said protesters were causing “serious disturbances to public safety” and other road users prompting police intervention.

The police vowed “resolute enforcement actions will be taken against any illegal acts to preserve public order and safeguard public safety.”

Crowds at a standoff with police force in Mong Kok. Photo: Chris Lau

The dispute escalated when police attempted to push a portable ladder towards the crowd, which appeared to perceive it as a threat of clearance.

Earlier, the police engaged in another standoff with the crowds as they tried to block a taxi that was passing through, in retaliation at the clearance of the vendors. Police came back later after a withdrawal.

A hectic start to the Year of the Monkey. Photo: Chris Lau

“It was good in the beginning. I was chatting with the police,” said a man identified as Kam, who was hit with the spray. He declined to reveal his identity.

“They suddenly sprayed my face even though I told them I just wanted to go,” said Kam, who was stuck between the police and crowd at the time.

Another woman, Esther Yip Hoi-wan, from activist group 80s Momentum, said her friends were arrested.

She said it was very dangerous for the police to carry out such operations as there were hawkers’ trolley filled with hot food on the street.

Chaos on the streets of Mong Kok on the first night of the Year of the Monkey. Photo: Edward Wong

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/1910845/mong-kok-riot-thousands-expected-gather-new-year-fireworks

Related:

Hong Kong Police Fire Warning Shots — Bloody Ending for Lunar New Year Celebrations — Police Act as Judge and Jury, Accuse Youths of “Violence or Radical Acts”

February 9, 2016

Reuters

World | Tue Feb 9, 2016 4:49am EST

An unidentified injured man is escorted by riot police at Mongkok in Hong Kong, China February 9, 2016. REUTERS/BOBBY YIP
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Hong Kong riot police fired warning shots on Tuesday during clashes that erupted in the Chinese-ruled city when authorities tried to remove illegal street stalls set up for Lunar New Year celebrations, the worst violence since pro-democracy protests in 2014.

Demonstrators prised bricks from the sidewalk to hurl at police, while others toppled street signs and set fire to rubbish bins in Mong Kok, a tough, working-class neighborhood just across the harbor from the heart of the Asian financial center.

“We have noticed a shift in some members of the public,” said Hong Kong Police Commissioner Lo Wai-chung. “(They) have an inclination to use violence or radical acts in order to express their opinion.”

Nearly 90 police sustained injuries ranging from fractured bones to lacerations and bruises and 54 protesters were arrested, Lo said. Hong Kong television showed police officers being beaten with poles and sticks as they lay on the ground.

Many protesters and police were also shown with blood streaming down their faces.

Police said two warning shots were fired into the air, with pepper spray and batons also used to disperse the crowd. Television footage showed the shots were fired as protesters surrounded traffic police, pelting them with rubbish, bricks and bottles and wrestling one of them to the ground.

Lo said the life of the officer who fired the shots was being threatened. He also said there would be a full investigation into the incident.

The remains of burned bins and flower pots, chunks of brick and broken bottles lay scattered along the Nathan Road shopping strip, which leads to the harbor at Tsim Sha Tsui. A taxi with shattered windows was parked nearby.

The narrow streets in and around Mong Kok were the scene of some of the most violent clashes during protests in late 2014 to demand greater democracy for the former British colony that returned to Beijing rule in 1997.

The violence broke out after police moved in to clear illegal vendors who sell local delicacies, trinkets and household goods from makeshift streetside stalls.

The hawkers, a common sight on Hong Kong’s bustling streets, quickly attracted a strong social media following under the hashtag #FishballRevolution.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the government strongly condemned the violence. Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said police were investigating indications the clashes had been organized.

The protesters had dispersed by 8 a.m. (7.00 p.m. ET on Monday) but more than 100 had confronted police in a tense, pre-dawn stand-off during the Lunar New Year holiday, when most of the city is shut down.

Police said they did not expect another riot on Tuesday night, when new year fireworks are planned over the harbor, but they were boosting manpower nonetheless.

Hong Kong Indigenous, a “localist” group that is fielding a candidate in a Legislative Council by-election in a few weeks, was involved in the protest, though it was not immediately clear the role it played or the extent to which it was involved.

The group said on its official Facebook page and confirmed to Reuters that its candidate, Edward Leung Tin-kei, had been arrested.

Many so-called localists remain deeply embittered by the lack of any concessions from Beijing or Hong Kong authorities during the 2014 protests. Television footage showed protesters on Tuesday shouting: “Establish a Hong Kong country!” during running battles with police.

The clashes in December 2014 came when authorities cleared the last of pro-democracy demonstrators from the streets after more than two months of protests that had presented Beijing with one of its greatest political challenges in decades.

(Additional reporting by Anne Marie Roantree, Bobby Yip and James Pomfret; Editing byPaul Tait and Nick Macfie)

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