HONG KONG—The first day of 2014 was celebrated by 30,000 people taking to the streets in a march demanding universal suffrage. Organizers said this march was the first step in a determined campaign.
Slogans and chants such as “Election nomination from the citizens”, “CY step down”, “Refuse interference from CCP”, “Opposition to pre-selection from the West Point, I want fair universal suffrage”, and so on abounded. The Hong Kong chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, is commonly referred to as CY. West Point is the area where the Liaison Office for the People’s Republic of China is located.
The Hong Kong Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) and Alliance for True Democracy organized the march, which started from Victoria Park at 3 pm.
The convener of the CHRF, Johnson Yeung Ching-Yin, said that the New Year march was this year’s first round of wrestling between the public and the government. Citizens have to fight for themselves, Johnson said.
CHRF believes that 2014 will be crucial for determining whether Hong Kong can put genuine universal suffrage into effect or not.
Mr. Li, who held a self-made poster, was discontent with all of what Leung Chun-ying has done. “Leung Chun Ying did everything according to the directives of the Chinese Communist Party, and all of it was harmful to the citizens”, Li said. He said that the fight for universal suffrage was for the sake of the next generation.
Anson Chan: Universal Suffrage in Demand
Known as “Hong Kong’s Conscience”, former Chief Secretary Anson Chan also participated in the march.
She said that the latest poll from Hong Kong University showed that the Hong Kong people’s concern for universal suffrage has reached a new high, even higher than concerns expressed for the economy or for livelihood.
Chan said her participation in the march was to demonstrate to the Hong Kong government that she was very disappointed with the dishonest consultation document on political reform that had been produced.
A group of 700 Falun Gong practitioners, led by the Tian Guo Marching Band, walked side-by-side with the protesters.
Dressed in brightly colored outfits, the practitioners said they marched in order to help awaken the global conscience and bring the persecution of Falun Gong by the Chinese Communist Party to an end.
The practitioners want to see justice given to the main perpetrators of the persecution, namely former CCP head Jiang Zemin and former domestic security czar Zhou Yongkang.
Many carried huge banners with slogans such as, “Destroy the evil CCP”, “Quit CCP”, ”Falun Dafa is good”, “Stop the mafia of Leung Chun-ying from bringing chaos to Hong Kong”, “Stop CCP’s live organ harvesting.”
Taiwanese lawyer and Falun Gong spokesperson Theresa Chu held a banner with the slogan, “Bring the chief culprits of the persecution of Falun Gong Jiang Zemin, Zhou Yongkang, Liu Jing, Zeng Qinghong to justice.” Chu said that Falun Gong has been persecuted for 14 years, and the culprits are still at large.
“We hope on this day of the New Year, people would think of the numerous compatriots who have no freedom, who are still under cruel persecution and their organs being taken whilst they are still alive”, Chu said. “That’s why we are holding up this banner. We hope all Chinese in Hong Kong and in the whole world could see that this is the universal voice of all Chinese.”
The CCP attempts to restrict freedom of speech in Hong Kong, and Hong Kong media have not covered the Falun Gong practitioners’ frequent, large marches. But thousands of people in Hong Kong bear witness to the events, and so blocking the media’s coverage has not really been effective.
‘Time We Came Out’
Ms. Li who took to the street for the first time said: “It is high time we came out.” She said, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is a puppet of the CCP, with uncountable bad policies since he took charge.
Li said the new consultation paper for political reform actually did not give real universal suffrage to Hong Kong people.
HKTV staff wore black shirts with the slogan “stay to guard Hong Kong”. Screen writer Ms. Ho said that ever since Leung Chun Ying took office, successive policies of brainwashing, national education, and the TV licensing incident have displeased Hong Kong people. Leung has sought to bring the PRC’s curriculum into Hong Kong’s schools, which has been opposed by the Hong Kong people, and his government refused to give a broadcast license to HKTV in a move believed to be politically based.
Ho is unhappy with the interference from Beijing and the Liaison Office in the development of Hong Kong’s political system, and said the Hong Kong people must guard the principle of one-country-two-systems, of Hong Kong being ruled by Hong Kong people (not the CCP).
The Chairperson of the Civic Party Audrey Eu criticized the consultation on political reform, saying it did not even define what is universal suffrage.
“Actually this consultation has a lot of restriction, like a bird’s cage”, Eu said. “The current participation is very unfair, uneven, causing deep conflicts in the society. We need a universal, fair one.”
Eu says it is crucial to come out fighting in response to the interference from Beijing in Hong Kong’s political reform.
The Chairman of the Labour Party, Lee Cheuk-yan, said that in seeing how many people took to the streets to protest on the New Year’s day, we can see the real poll for Leung Chun-ying.
The Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood(HKADPL) posted a bird’s cage on the street with a member locked inside as a satire of the government’s version of political reform.
As the procession wound down at 5pm with a gathering at Chater Garden, League of Social Democrats (LSD) member Leung Kwok-hung said that if there was no genuine universal suffrage, Hong Kongers would have to fight till the end with peaceful non-cooperative movements that include strikes at work and school.
Leung said he could not accept universal suffrage where there is no citizen nomination, or where an independent person with no party or other political background could not run for election
Convenor of the Genuine Universal Suffrage League (GUSL) and parade organizer Joseph Cheng said that this year is crucial for the fight for universal suffrage. He promised that GUSL will persist to the end and never retreat.
Translated by Y.K. Lu. Written in English by Christine Ford.