Hong Kong ablaze as protests intensify: 'We might as well go down fighting'

A train car burns at a MTR station during a demonstration at Chinese University of Hong Kong on November 13, 2019, in Hong Kong, China.
A train car burns at a MTR station during a demonstration at Chinese University of Hong Kong on November 13, 2019, in Hong Kong, China. | Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

The protests in Hong Kong continue to intensify, as hope wanes among natives, some of whom say they are afraid but might as well go down fighting.

Recent reports indicate that children as young as 11 are now fueling the protests and violence between protesters and police is growing. According to The Wall Street Journal Friday, the protests of late have been some of the most bloody to date and schools have been driving Hong Kong's uprising against China's ruling party.

Demonstrations that involved millions of people against a contested extradition law and police brutality have been roiling the Asian city-state since June. Since the British left Hong Kong in 1997 the southeastern autonomous region of China has been governed by the constitutional principle known as "one country, two systems," a principle now thrown into question in light of massive pressures from Beijing to adhere to its demands.

The conflict escalated last week as protesters at Hong Kong Polytechnic University shot arrows at the police who responded with tear gas. Universities have become particularly potent battle zones where clashes have caused Chinese students from the mainland to flee. High school students are also participating in the protests.

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"High schools serve as natural points of contact for protesters to find like-minded supporters, organize and plan. They have also become venues for dispute between student protesters and students who support mainland China’s rule. Teachers say that even as they try to mediate arguments on playgrounds and classrooms, they are under scrutiny, too, and fear losing their careers if they are seen as advocating protests," The Journal reported.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill Tuesday — called The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act — aimed at supporting the Hong Kong protesters in a rebuke of sorts to Chinese suppression of the demonstrations.

China, in turn, subsequently rebuked the Senate resolution, referring to it as U.S. interference in its domestic affairs.

Among the popular chants the protesters use is "Five demands, not one less," the Atlantic reported Nov. 12. Those demands include the complete withdrawal of an anti-extradition bill, an independent commission to investigate police misconduct, a retraction of riot charges against protesters, amnesty for protesters that have been arrested, and universal suffrage. The contested extradition law would send suspected criminals to be extradited to mainland China for prosecution.

“But we cannot give up,” one protester told the Atlantic, “because if we do, there will be no future for us anyway. We might as well go down fighting.”

Protesters told the outlet about Xinjiang, a region in northwestern China that is home to ethnic minorities, including the Turkic Uyghur people and what China had done to the Uighurs, many of whom continue to be held in brutal internment camps where grotesque, state-sponsored human rights violations are being perpetrated, including the harvesting of organs.

"China may have wanted to make an example out of the region, but the lesson Hong Kongers took was in the other direction — resist with all your might, because if you lose once, there will be a catastrophe for your people, and the world will ignore it," the Atlantic reported.

Carrie Lam, the chief executive of Hong Kong, is widely considered to be handpicked by Beijing despite having been voted into office by 777 people out of the city-state's 1,200-person “Election Committee.”

Many of those committed members are businesspeople with close ties to the mainland. October polls revealed that her popularity in Hong Kong hovered around 22 percent, with only around 10 percent of Hong Kongers saying they would voluntarily vote for her.

Additionally, arsonists dressed in black wielding batons set a print shop and warehouse of the Hong Kong edition of The Epoch Times ablaze Tuesday. Although the attire resembles that of Hong Kong protesters, the outlet subsequently said that the attack was "apparently done in an effort to confuse the situation, as this tactic fits a pattern we have seen in Hong Kong."

"Police and thugs have pretended to be protesters, journalists, and citizens, and committed violence, including beatings and arson, then blamed the protesters in an attempt to discredit them," the newspaper said in a Wednesday statement about the incident, noting that it was the fourth attack to occur in recent years.

"In February 2006, thugs broke into it and attempted to smash the printers. In October 2012, thugs attempted to break into the print shop but could not smash open the gate. In December 2012, seven men carrying multiple toolboxes appeared and began attempting to break through the gate."

The newspaper concluded that it "will not be cowed" and that the print shop is being repaired.

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