Hong Kong pro-democracy activists hoist 'Lady Liberty' statue above city to rally protests

Written By BlabberBuzz | Source: Reuters | Sunday, 13 October 2019 01:00

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong protesters scaled the city’s Lion Rock peak and hoisted a large statue they called “Lady Liberty” early on Sunday to rally anti-government activists ahead of more planned demonstrations in the Asian financial hub.

The three-meter (9-feet) statue, wearing a gas mask, helmet and protective goggles, was carried up the 500-metre (1,500-feet) peak in the dead of night by several dozen protesters, some wearing head lamps, during an overnight thunderstorm.

It held a black banner that read “Revolution of our time, Liberate Hong Kong” and could be seen from the city below.

The statue represented an injured woman protester believed by activists to have been shot in the eye by a police projectile. One of the protesters told Reuters he hoped it would inspire Hong Kong people to keep fighting.

“We are telling people that you mustn’t give up. All problems can be resolved with Hong Kong people’s persistence and hard work to reach our aims,” he said.

Hong Kong has been battered by four months of often massive and violent protests against what is seen as Beijing’s tightening grip on the Chinese-ruled city, and more protests are planned for Sunday.

Petrol bombs were thrown inside a Hong Kong metro rail station on Saturday but no one was injured, the government said.

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The MTR, which usually carries some 5 million people daily, will shut early on Sunday and the Airport Express will not stop between central Hong Kong and the airport.

Metro stations have been torched and ticketing machines damaged because protesters believe MTR management, at the instruction of the government, has closed stations to hinder protesters’ movements. It was forced to shut down completely last week.

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CRISIS

The protests started in opposition to a now-abandoned extradition bill but have widened into a pro-democracy movement and an outlet for anger at social inequality in the city, which boasts some of the world’s most expensive real estate.

The unrest has plunged the city into its worst crisis since Britain handed it back to China in 1997 and poses the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

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Protesters believe China has been eroding Hong Kong’s freedoms, guaranteed under a “one country, two systems” formula introduced with the 1997 handover.

The now-withdrawn extradition bill, under which residents would have been sent to Communist-controlled mainland courts, was seen as the latest move to tighten control.

China denies the accusation and says foreign countries, including Britain and the United States, are fomenting unrest.

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After almost a week of relative calm, following some of the worst violence since the unrest started, hundreds of protesters wearing face masks staged a peaceful march in Kowloon on Sunday, with only a small group trashing shops and mainland China banks.

The government said petrol bombs were thrown into the entrance of the Kowloon Tong station and a Kowloon government office was set on fire.

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Riot police deployed to the streets but protesters had dispersed without any major confrontation by late Sunday night.

The Hong Kong government introduced colonial-era emergency laws last week to ban the wearing of face masks at public rallies, a move that sparked some of the worst violence since the unrest started in June.

Police have arrested more than 2,300 people since June. Since September, nearly 40% were under the age of 18 and 10% under 15.

Protesters accuse police of using excessive force, claims which they deny. Two protesters have been shot and wounded during skirmishes with police.

Hong Kong is facing its first recession in a decade due to the protests, with tourism and retail hardest hit.

Blizzard Entertainment reduces punishment for Hong Kong gamer, but more protests are coming

This article was sourced from Hot Air

Blizzard Entertainment finally responded to the international controversy that has been swirling since they punished a Hong Kong gamer for shouting “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age!” during a live stream.

The company responded by banning the player from competition for a year and taking away his prize money. The two “casters” who were hosting the live stream were also banned.

That didn’t sit well with a lot of gamers who responded with memes and a boycott that involved uninstalling the company’s games until the decision had been reversed. Yesterday, Blizzard cracked and partially reversed its decision. From the company’s statement:

Over the weekend, blitzchung used his segment to make a statement about the situation in Hong Kong—in violation of rules he acknowledged and understood, and this is why we took action…

In the tournament itself blitzchung *played* fair. We now believe he should receive his prizing…

When we think about the suspension, six months for blitzchung is more appropriate, after which time he can compete in the Hearthstone pro circuit again if he so chooses. There is a consequence for taking the conversation away from the purpose of the event and disrupting or derailing the broadcast.

The company claimed Blitzchung’s views and its own relationship with China played no role in his punishment:

The specific views expressed by blitzchung were NOT a factor in the decision we made. I want to be clear: our relationships in China had no influence on our decision.

We have these rules to keep the focus on the game and on the tournament to the benefit of a global audience, and that was the only consideration in the actions we took.

If this had been the opposing viewpoint delivered in the same divisive and deliberate way, we would have felt and acted the same.

I’m not sure I believe that but even if it’s true, I don’t think showing strict neutrality between western democracy and Chinese communism is really the winning argument Blizzard thinks it is. Blizzard is an American company based in California. It should be a given that freedom and democracy are superior values. The idea that you’d punish proponents of freedom and proponents of communist autocracy equally seems like a very bad idea.

And just like the situation with the NBA, Blizzard’s own hypocrisy is pretty glaring. In the NBA’s case, you have a bunch of woke coaches and players who have suddenly gone silent about Chinese communism because they are worried about their shoe deals and marketing rights. In Blizzard’s case, the crackdown on Blitzchung presents a stark contrast with its own products. This is, after all, a company whose motto is “Every voice matters.” From Kotaku:

As has been stated multiple times by fans, players, and commentators throughout the week, it’s hard to square this kind of faux-neutral political stance with the games Blizzard creates and the values it espouses. This is a company whose games are full of heroes fighting for freedom and equality, and China’s handling of Hong Kong has been anything but. All political statements are not equal—especially where human rights violations are concerned—and it’s disheartening to see a company with Blizzard’s legacy stand behind that kind of false equivalence in a time when games are, more than ever, intertwined with culture. Reducing Blitzchung’s suspension is a step in the right direction, but in the face of all this, it’s still hard for the company’s games and statements not to ring hollow.

Blizzard hosts an annual convention called Blizzcon which brings together about 40,000 players. This year’s Blizzcon takes place in Anaheim, CA three weeks from now, which seems like very unfortunate timing for the company. There are already multiple groups looking to protest outside this year’s convention:

Fight For The Future’s protest will take place outside the Anaheim Convention Center at noon on November 1, the first day of BlizzCon. The organization is asking protesters to bring umbrellas as a sign of solidarity with protesters in Hong Kong—who’ve adopted umbrellas as a symbol—or to cosplay as their favorite Blizzard characters…

“What is happening are horrible human rights violations and suppression,” Thompson told Kotaku in an email. “When Blizzard, whose games and mottos support heroes and freedom, and [who] has stated on their company grounds [that] every voice matters, took away Blitzchung for simply saying he supports Hong Kong as the revolution of our times, I was shocked… He never used any foul or extreme language about China. It shows how companies are willing to say they support diversity and heroes until it doesn’t pay.”

I’m sympathetic to the idea that gamers should remain focused on the game. I’m sure a lot of NBA fans don’t enjoy listening to Steve Kerr’s mind-thoughts about gun control. But the NBA Commissioner is right when he says he isn’t going to become a minder of other people’s speech. The problem is that no one in the NBA is actually using that freedom to criticize China or support Hong Kong despite offering opinions on everything else.

As for Blizzard, if they really want people to believe this wasn’t about the content of what Blitzchung said, just about enforcing the rules, they can prove it. All they need to do is issue another statement that would go something like this:

As an American company, Blizzard strongly support freedom, human rights, and democracy around the world, including in Hong Kong. Every voice matters.

If they can’t say that loudly and clearly, and so far they haven’t, then gamers are right to suspect the company’s financial relationship with China is playing a role in this decision.

Petrol bombs thrown in Hong Kong metro, protesters defy face mask ban

This article was sourced from Reuters

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Petrol bombs were thrown inside a Hong Kong metro station on Saturday but no one was injured, the government said, as pro-democracy protesters again took to the streets angry at what they believe is Beijing’s tightening grip on the city.

The Kowloon Tong station was seriously damaged in the attack, the government said in a statement. Riot police deployed in the streets of Kowloon and inside several metro stations after the petrol bomb attack.

Hundreds of protesters, many young and wearing face masks, were marching in Kowloon at the time and were headed to a district near the Kowloon Tong station.

“No crime to cover our faces, no reason to enact (anti-mask) law,” protesters chanted. “I have the right to wear masks!”

The Hong Kong government introduced colonial-era emergency laws last week to ban the wearing of face masks at public rallies, a move that sparked some of the worst violence since the unrest started in June.

Some protesters erected road barricades using public garbage bins and water-filled plastic barriers used for traffic control and security.

Protesters elsewhere set fire to a government office in Kowloon and vandalized shops and metro stations, the government said.

There were no skirmishes between protesters and police and by nightfall protesters had dispersed into small groups scattered around Kowloon.

Hong Kong’s protests started in opposition to a now-abandoned extradition bill but have mushroomed in four months into a pro-democracy movement and an outlet for anger at social inequality in the city, an Asian financial hub.

The protests have plunged the city into its worst crisis since Britain handed it back to China in 1997 and is the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

Hong Kong had experienced relative calm since last weekend, when a peaceful march by tens of thousands spiraled into a night of running battles between protesters and police.

Since then there had only been small nightly protests and activists had not flagged any major action this weekend.

‘DEFEND THE FUTURE’

A small group calling itself the “Silver-Haired Marchers” began a 48-hour sit-in at police headquarters on Saturday, describing themselves as “old but not obsolete”.

“The young people have already sacrificed a lot, it is about time for us, the senior citizens in Hong Kong to come forward to take up part of the responsibility from the young people,” 63-year-old Shiu told local media.

“I mean for us, even if we are caught by the police because of an illegal gathering, I don’t mind,” said Shiu, who was identified with only one name.

Police have arrested more than 2,300 people since June. Since September nearly 40% were under the age of 18 and 10% under 15.

Some protest marchers on Saturday covered their faces with photocopies of the Chinese president’s face, others with “V for Vendetta” Guy Fawkes masks, and a group of protesters plan a “face mask party” on Saturday night.

The face mask ban carries a maximum one-year jail term, but thousands, including school children and office workers, have defied the ban.

POLICE CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE

Hong Kong’s police are also facing a crisis of confidence amid the worsening political tensions. Protesters accuse them of using excessive force, a charge police deny, and two protesters have been shot and wounded during skirmishes with police.

Hong Kong is facing its first recession in a decade due to the protests, with tourism and retail hardest hit.

Many shops have been shutting early to avoid becoming a target of protesters and due to closures of the damaged metro. Some stations on the network were closed on Saturday after being targeted.

Protesters have also targeted China banks and shops with perceived links to China, as well as U.S. coffee chain Starbucks, which had a store in Kowloon trashed on Saturday.

The protests have been driven by a concern that China has been eroding Hong Kong’s freedoms, guaranteed under a “one country, two systems” formula introduced with the 1997 handover.

The now-withdrawn extradition bill, under which residents would have been sent to Communist-controlled mainland courts, was seen as the latest move to tighten control.

China denies the accusation and says foreign countries, including Britain and the United States, are fomenting unrest.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in announcing a partial trade deal with China on Friday that he had raised Hong Kong in the talks after previously warning that a deteriorating situation in the city could affect the negotiations.

This article was sourced from Reuters

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