Hong Kong: hundreds of thousands participate in pro-democracy march – The Guardian
Hong Kong Democracy Protest: Thousands March Through City – The Wall Street Journal
Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protesters Emboldened by March – The Wall Street Journal
In Hong Kong, Tens of Thousands March for Democracy – TIME
Over 500 arrested after Hong Kong democracy rally – USA TODAY
Police accused of heavy-handed treatment of protesters arrested after July 1 march – South China Morning Post

It is laudable, it is brilliant, and it is there for us to see. Yes, it is not going to bring any immediate change, and possibly, not even in the near future. In fact, it can and will bring repression with the state machinery going tougher on the protesters and pro-democracy factions, parties and activists.

But, it is symbolically potent, like any such event in China, an oppressive democracy, is and has been, like the Tiananmen Protests and Massacre on mainland, like the Annual Tiananmen Vigil on June 4 in Hong Kong, like the Wukan protests on mainland or like this Annual Handover Day March on July 1, when Hong Kong was handed over to the Chinese rule 17 years ago.

The island of Hong Kong may be just a city state but being one of the economic powerhouses of the world and an industrialized and developed British colony till 1997, it is home to the values the developed Western economies cherish and that was the central reason behind the autonomy given to the islanders under ‘one country, two systems’ norms – with local rule to run the systems except foreign relations and defense.

But, then it was China, the global powerhouse of repression, the symbolism of a ruthless political system ruled by a single political party for over six decades – a period with number of events when pro-democracy voices were killed mercilessly – and the run is still continued.

And any tyrannical regime is stubbornly imperialist when it comes to expand geographically or when it comes to claim territories – or when it comes to transform the culture of the territories to suit its plans, like China has done in Tibet, like China has done with Falun Gong.

After Hong Kong came under Chinese sovereignty, the next aim was to make its civil liberties like the mainland – where no civil liberties exist.

It was never going to be easy in Hong Kong, with cherished values and atmosphere of self-rule and autonomy in existence for a long time. Yes, there was no universal suffrage in spite of the attempts to introduce it. It remained a core issue and now the Chinese government of Beijing has agreed to introduce the universal suffrage in 2017 when the city-state is slated to go polls to elect its next leader.

But this universal suffrage is nothing more than a sham step where the candidate to be chosen is from the pool proposed by Beijing. And this is a major reason among others making the Hong Kong residents worried and frightened about Beijing’s intentions and plans.

Beijing is methodically taking over institutions in Hong Kong with efforts like installing a pro-Beijing leader or introduction of the national education programme (the protests in 2012).

And realizing the real intent, the pro-autonomy and pro-democracy activists are protesting it. Organizers from the ‘Civil Human Rights Front’ claim over 5,00,000 protesters came forward to join the sit-in and participate in the March demanding democratic rights.

Over half-a-million were expected after an unofficial pro-democracy referendum by ‘Occupy Central with Love and Peace’ was signed by around 8,00,000 people, almost 10% of the Hong Kong population.

And though the police claim the turnout to be less than 1,00,000, we can believe in the higher turnout figure even if it was not over half-a-million.

And the importance of this turnout lies in its symbolic potential. Though its mention was blacked out on the mainland, such attempts are increasingly becoming difficult. Access to the information on the Hong Kong life was one of the reasons that had ‘inspired’ many of the Wukan protesters.

And with increased complexity of layers and sub-layers, controlling the virtual world of social media is going to be as difficult as raising a pro-democracy demand in Beijing today.

Yes, the June 4 Vigil or July 1 March are not going to bring any changes for the mainland China in the future we can foresee now, but it is going to make developments more intense in Hong Kong as the protesters have warned for more protests later this year.

And crushing such protests like the Beijing government does in China would not be possible without the whole world coming to know about every such development.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – http://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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