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The future of HK Protests and Weapons

2015/3/4 — 10:33

圖:無綫電視新聞截圖

圖:無綫電視新聞截圖

It's a curious sight to see the police parade the confiscated homemade 'weapons' from Sunday's Yuen Long protests. One could certainly start to worry that Hong Kong society is heading down a dark, violent path, but like everything concerning these protests they have to be taken into context.

It's no secret that making home made weapons has been discussed on portals like HKGolden, but today the police gave everyone a How To Lesson on what they would look like. Or, if you hadn't thought of it before, then here's how to do it and what you could use. I find this rather odd. I don't pretend to understand what goes on in the mind's of the police, they are alien to me, but for me, if your principle motivation was to keep society's peace, why are you demonstrating to all of Hong Kong how to make weapons from your cupboards? I don't have an answer to this? I'm merely raising the question which seems very odd.

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So, given that HKGolden has discussed making weapons, and the police have now confiscated what looks like home made weapons and broadcast it to the City. What kind of reaction can we expect from public?

I can only imagine that it's the police's motivation for showing these weapons is to turn off the general public to these protest groups. But like all the recent police attempts at PR it will fail. Why? Because Hong Kong people aren't stupid. They understand that in the democracy spectrum there are moderates all the way down to radicals, and even within the radical group, there is a wide spectrum of views. With only a tiny fraction of a fraction being either brave enough or stupid enough to want to carry weapons to a hot protest. The police probably want to paint thousands of people as being of the same ilk as these individuals now but this kind of thinking is also out of whack as guilt is not transferable across individuals and especially not across groups. If someone is caught stealing the office stationary, it doesn't mean the whole office are thieves. Likewise, if some protesters start carrying weapons, it doesn't mean all will. Again I can hear the police retort, but this type of protest is heading in that way, well if you truly believe that's the case, why the fuck are the police facilitating in the learning process in a way that far surpasses what the protesters could ever do?

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Having said this, it has to be said, there is talk of using more violence at protests, but I don't think the chatter will materialise into actual real combat with weapons anytime soon and here's why. The HK Police are now a para military wing of the HK government. The HK government doesn't negotiate with the people, so confronting the police is now one of the only ways the people can provoke a response from an aloof and remote government. The police have embraced this new political, para military role and resolutely defend the government under the guise of maintaining social stability. From day one the police have shown that they are prepared to use maximum violence to quell protests if ordered to do so. At the start of the Occupy Movement I wrongly believed that if the PLA came into HK, the HKPF would defend their own kin from being massacred in the streets. That's when I still believed in Asia's Finest, which we all now know collapsed many years ago. The reality is that the PLA will NEVER come on the streets of HK, the HK Police are more than willing to shoot and kill HK people if the time comes. They don't need Mainlanders to do their dirty work, they will take up the job with relish and gusto.

It's because of this fact that the chatter of violence wont degenerate quickly into actual street combat, because the police are already waiting and fully prepared for this escalation. If people bring batons, then they'll bring rubber bullets, if the people bring petrol bombs then they'll bring their AR-15s. The public can't beat them in an escalation of violence. Each new weapon introduced by the protesters will be justification for the police to up-grade to their next weapon. It doesn't matter what you've got in your cupboards, it will never match the police's billion dollar budget and CY's cheque book.

So, am I saying the police can't or shouldn't be confronted via direct protest methods? No, not at all. Becasue the public can beat the system in an escalation of CONFRONTATION. Standing your ground and letting the police expend their violence and unprofessionalism is a winning strategy because the public has something that is much more powerful than weapons, they have numbers. We can all see from the protests that despite the police having nearly 30,000 personnel, not that many are frontline operators. Even with just the relatively small anti-smuggler protests the police are stretched. So invariably, they over-stress and quickly degenerate into a uniformed mob, who are quick to beat unarmed protesters at the slightest provocation. This is the nuclear weapon of the protesters that the police can never match. As the police escalate in violence and bad practice, the protests escalate in confrontation and power. There are now so many videos of police behaving badly from Yuen Long that the next protest will double in numbers. The two factors are not inseparable.

Just like on September 28th, the people took to the streets because they saw the extreme violence of the police and wanted to stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow Hong Kongers. However, many pro-democracy activists have temporarily lost sight of this cause and effect and balk at the confrontational attitudes of the direct action groups.

During the 70day Occupy, it was almost like the Occupy itself took on a life of its own that out grew the original aims and was something that needed to be protected. But no matter how much fuzzy feelings or cool vibes the Occupy created, it was always after nights of police violence that the crowds would grow again. This was the lesson the direct action groups took from Occupy. Or the power of confrontation. This shouldn't be confused with the power of violence. They're two separate things, with different results. The people will always win a confrontation, the police will always win on violence, but confrontation backed by people power always trumps escalating violence in the end.

The direct action groups are now on a role with their use of direct confrontation, whether it be with Blue Ribbons, Smugglers, Triads, corrupt village societies or the police. They have no fear of these dark pillars and have called their bluff every time. For they know, the only strategy these groups have is escalating violence and more violence makes the protesters stronger. The strength of the direct action groups is growing and I predict a future merging, with those who hold more moderate views starting to attend the protests too, because these people are results orientated and they see the real results the protests are having and they understand the difference between violence and confrontation.

We're now not far away from having regular, singular events where tens and eventually even a hundred thousand people turn up to protest, then go home to reconvene the following week. Some analysts during Occupy advised that the Occupation should retreat and a Leipzig style campaign be enacted instead. Or, for those not familiar with what happened. Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, a regular Monday night candle light vigil eventually snowballed into epic protests of over 70,000 people every Monday night. It was a demonstration of the power of the people and after weeks of persistent protests the East German State had only one card left to play, more violence. On the last night before the Wall fell, the security apparatus geared up for a full, violent assault on the protesters, but those in power knew that would only bring even more people onto the streets the following week.

Back in the days of Occupy, people were NOT ready for this type of protest. Despite Beijing trying to portray Occupy as well planned foreign intervention, we all know Occupy was a chaotic affair that never had any coherent plan, ever!

But now the direct action groups have given Hong Kong people a blue print for change that everyone can see works. Or, pick a hot topic, pick a location, make a protest then leave. Come back later in another place with more numbers and more strength, erstwhile enjoying the media frenzy it creates, especially around the violence of the State. These groups are not stopping at smugglers, other entrenched, rotten parts of society are now in their sites and will feel the wrath of the people's anger soon. The topics will be meaningful and engaging to all people of Hong Kong. Just like hawkers and smugglers the protests will set off huge ripples that shake society.

I foresee a time when 50,000+ people turn up for shopping in designated shopping centres once a week to protest say, tycoon monopolies. We are truly on the path now to temporary Occupies like those that happened in Leipzig. Certainly, a tiny minority, like those creating home made pepper sprays may misunderstand the difference between confrontation and violence, but this wont stop the momentum. These people are just a consequence of statistics rather than any moral collapse of the protesters.

What is coming will be more powerful than Occupy ever was and will shake Hong Kong to its core.

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