Hong Kong’s Occupy Central Turned Violent as Thugs Attacked Occupiers
Yesterday was a sad day for Hong Kong. I really love this city. Every time I go there, its atmosphere and beauty, its energy and uniqueness mesmerize me. But the contradictions of the post-1997 settlement are coming to the surface now and threaten to change the ex-colony forever.
The images we have seen yesterday are shocking, and to a certain extent unexpected. I was there on the first day of Occupy Central. The tension was palpable. People seemed optimistic, but how to forget what happened in 1989? Who could know whether the leadership in Beijing would react the same way and the soldiers of the PLA would storm out of their barracks to put down the demonstrations?
However, no one expected that thugs would do the dirty job of scaring off the protesters. Yesterday, men who oppose Occupy Central attacked demonstrators, injuring several of them (the exact numbers are unclear). The clashes were fiercest in Mong Kok, a popular shopping area. Apparently, anti-Occupiers’ violent actions were well-organised.
At 9.10pm Benny Tai said he suspected triads were behind the violent attacks. He also accused the police of not taking action to protect the peaceful protesters. Police forces watched by as the fights erupted and did not intervene on behalf of the victims. The attackers, on the other hand, were met with surprising indulgence.
Labour Party leader Lee Cheuk-yan, too, suggested that the attackers had links with the triads. “When students were protesting peacefully on Sunday,” he said, “police fired tear gas at them; but now, the police did nothing to the people who actually attacked the occupiers. It has shown a big contrast.“
Journalist Grace Tsoi reported that anti-Occupy individuals warned a female student protester that she might be “sexually harassed” as a consequence of her taking part in the protests.
Triad violence and police complicity – if orchestrated by the government of Hong Kong or Beijing, or by pro-Beijing groups – might be a way to intimidate the protesters without resorting to the deployment of the army, which would damage Beijing’s global image.