In the last few days’ horrors… Local CCP media blast a senior civil servant at the Unpatriotic Mural Removal Dept for supposedly turning a blind eye to Lennon Walls, causing divided loyalties for laboriously patriotic Regina Ip, who (correctly) sees a Cultural Revolution smear. Reuters finds that two NGOs – the New School for Democracy and Global Innovation Hub – have left Hong Kong for Taiwan, fearing safety of personnel and bank accounts. HK Baptist U cancels a photo exhibition; Chinese U disestablishes its student union; and a nursing school dismisses its principal.
The latter case is linked to the really big one: police charge 47 pan-dems with ‘conspiracy to commit subversion’ – or participating in a primary election. (The aim being to maximize pro-democracy seats in the Legislative Council – election since postponed – to gain some political influence over the executive branch through legitimate means recognized in the Basic Law. The NatSec regime sees this as ‘linked to a plot to overthrow the government’.) Since these are NatSec offences dealt with by specially picked judges, we can assume they will be jailed with no bail for ages, and finally given at least three-year (and in many cases harsher) sentences. (More background from Xinqi Su. Comment from Hong Kong Watch.)
Most of the pan-dems are here: Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, biggest vote-winner in any Hong Kong election; Benny Tai, academic and theorist/strategist for Occupy and the primary elections; former airline pilot/lawmaker Jeremy Tam; journalist ex-lawmaker Claudia Mo; Long Hair; Joshua Wong (already in prison); Ray ‘Slowbeat’ Chan (one of my esteemed Twitter followers, making it slightly more personal); young aspiring politicians; and on and on. (More here, and farewell messages here.)
Curiously, a handful were not charged yesterday (they must await further decisions). Could it be the authorities thought jailing non-ethnic Chinese and healthcare workers on such idiotic charges would look bad?
Meanwhile, we have Martin Lee, Margaret Ng, Jimmy Lai, Albert Ho, Cyd Ho and others, including Long Hair, again, awaiting trial for other charges. Basically, anyone who enjoys support from the majority in Hong Kong is now in jail, unless they are in exile.
The sheer overkill in all this is bewildering. It’s not enough to twist laws to bar critics from elected bodies and public life – you have to arrest them and imprison them, often multiple times. Erick Tang will only need to work harder on his ‘love the CCP’ theory.
The usual explanation is that the wanton cruelty and injustice is the point: we can do this to anyone so shut up and kowtow. Worked in Russia in the 1920s or China in the 1950s. But a large number of Hongkongers have met at least one or two of these figures in person, and millions have voted for them. Jailing them all on trumped-up BS charges might momentarily stun onlookers in the midst of pandemic. But in the long run, all the CCP is achieving here is an increasingly bitterly angry populace feeling under occupation – many probably pondering how to resist or avenge.