You want to live in a democracy and not be completely taken over by China

You want to live in a democracy and not be completely taken over by China

The rule would be presented to parliament at the next session on October 16 to turn it into law.

The “Emergency and Public Danger” law was enacted in 1922 by the British colonial rulers and only applied twice: in the same year to crush a seafarers’ strike that paralyzed the port, and in 1967 during riots and protests by pro-communist forces against the British colonial rule.

The law under Chapter 241 also enables the head of government to take further emergency measures “which are considered necessary in the public interest” “. Among other things, censorship, facilitated arrests and prison sentences, house searches, seizure and the interruption of communication networks are expressly mentioned.

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Since it was returned to China in 1997, the former British crown colony has been governed autonomously with its own constitution based on the principle of “one country, two systems”. The Hong Kongers are under China’s sovereignty, but – unlike the people in the Communist People’s Republic – enjoy more rights such as freedom of expression and assembly, for which they now fear.

Sources used: news agencies dpa, AFP

Jeanne Plaumann actually wanted to go on vacation in Hong Kong. However, there she witnessed the protests of the democracy movement. And a police force that uses tear gas without any consideration. An experience report.

On the evening of November 8, there is an eerie silence at a funeral service in Hong Kong. A few hours earlier, the 22-year-old student Alex Chow Tsz-lok had died. Several hundred people are gathered around tea lights with which “” Free HK, R.I.P. Chow “” (Eng. “” Liberate Hong Kong, Rest in Peace, Chow “”) was written. Flowers are attached to a grid. Students make up the bulk of those who mourn, but the elderly also, and those who have come straight from the office join the event.

For me, the many people with face masks and masks are unusual. Even ordinary citizens who are not completely dressed in black or masked wear these. The impression arises that even the civilian population, who do not necessarily take part in other demonstrations, no longer trust the police and the surveillance by China. After the funeral the crowd dissolves, very calmly, just as it came.

Just a few days ago it was quite possible to stroll through the Special Administrative Region, which enjoys a certain degree of autonomy within China, to shop and visit sights. But now everything is different.

“” Black clads “” and policemen in riot gear

As we were looking for a restaurant, about 200 completely black-clad, masked demonstrators (known as “black clad” in Hong Kong) passed us and began to erect street barricades. At this point there is still nothing to be seen of the police. The situation is confusing and strange for me. The group could be described as a mob as an outsider, but that’s too easy in Hong Kong. Behind the street barricades, which are accompanied by broken traffic lights and partially burning power boxes, there are five months of protest against China’s influence and the repeatedly dubious behavior of the Hong Kong police.

Road blockade: The demonstrators try to bring traffic to a standstill – and thus to attract attention. (Source: Enno Lenze)

Out of interest, I watch what happens from a safe distance. From one moment to the next a group of policemen appears in full riot gear, with weapons that one is not used to with the police in Germany. In addition to the usual revolvers that the officers carry here, they are equipped with paintball guns that shoot pepper spray bullets, and grenade launchers that fire tear gas cartridges. I keep my distance. In contrast to the people here, I don’t have a face mask, gas mask or helmet.

The journalists covering the protests are in the front row. Mostly between the police and the demonstrators. They wear yellow vests, helmets and gas masks – and so far they have mostly been safe from police attacks. In the last few days, however, they too have been in danger again and again.

Police use during protests: Journalists are increasingly caught between the fronts. (Source: Enno Lenze)

Protesters are afraid of being forgotten

That evening journalists told me that the grenade launchers and pepper spray rifles were held right in front of their faces and they were advised to stop reporting. I see an entire street full of demonstrators – not masked, but normal students – who were shot at with pepper spray and tear gas. It’s hard to see. I am impressed how everyone helps everyone, how vendors immediately fetch water from the small food shops so that people with watery eyes can rinse them off. I keep getting reminded where it’s safe. I am offered masks and warned about the police. 

The next day there were several police buses with flashing lights opposite our hotel, on our side of the street about 20 young people were standing and yelling at the police officers in Cantonese (the official language in Hong Kong) and Mandarin (the official language in China). Since everyone here speaks English, I ask a woman what they are doing. “” We make fun of them. They’re only there because they’re blocking the bus stop so we can’t get home. “”

The five demands of the demonstrators: 1. no extradition from Hong Kong residents to China 2. No description of the demonstrations as “” riot “” 3. no prosecution of protesters 4. a commission to investigate police brutality and misconduct5. full suffrage for all Hong Kong residents

Underground trains and buses are being shut down earlier and earlier in the evening, so that the demonstrators will get home worse. “” We also yell at them in Mandarin, half are probably mainland Chinese “” – that is, police officers who were sent to Hong Kong by the Chinese government. There’s no official information on this, but everyone I speak to thinks it’s very likely. 

Again and again encounters with heavily armed police

The tear gas that I inhale several times the next evening is burning. The skin burns, the throat burns and my eyes water. The gas was fired more than 100 meters away, behind the next street corner. The foul stench comes before the fire – people run towards me in every street who say we should turn around immediately and go in the other direction. On the roadside, paramedics are tending to demonstrators who have had more of the gas. People throw up or break down everywhere. I have never dealt with tear gas before, but even I am quickly certain that the tear gas imported from China contains substances that are supposed to cause maximum damage. 

After 20 minutes of wandering around, I find a restaurant that isn’t on a tear gas-fogged street. In the course of the evening that changes too. The owner quietly closes the door and laughs, “” Tear gas, just stay here. We’ll let you know when you can “” get out. People are used to it. Everyone helps everyone – because the police, who are supposed to help, are responsible for the chaos and the tear gas.

In the days that followed, I kept running into the police. On every street corner I wonder if tear gas will be fired again in my immediate vicinity. As I walk through a mall, people suddenly start running. The police allegedly went into the building and threatened tear gas. The armed forces here actually announce this with large, color-coded signs. This time it was just a false positive, luckily.

Later, a few policemen are standing at the entrance to another shopping center, some in uniform with protective clothing, some in civilian clothes but with cameras. I was definitely filmed – as I am filming. The situation in Hong Kong is sometimes too absurd and unsettling not to be documented. But I look like a tourist, that’s how I originally came here, and like other journalists, I’m not asked what I’m doing and asked not to film.

Police in Hong Kong: The forces wear so-called “” riot gear “”. (Source: Enno Lenze)

A fight for democracy – and against China

In addition to these encounters with the police and the repeated inhalation of tear gas, the trip to Hong Kong also has very moving moments in my memory. A government-approved memorial service for the dead student Chow brought together 100,000 people, according to the organizers. Here too there was often just silence. People from all walks of life wept together for one of them. I will long remember the warmth and care that I experienced in one week in Hong Kong. 

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As someone from Germany in particular, peaceful protest is my first choice. To label the violent demonstrators in Hong Kong as rioters is too easy, given the risk of a possible complete takeover by China. Destruction is certainly not to be advocated. But the so-called “” black clad “” demonstrators are desperate and see their future in danger. You want to live in a democracy and not be completely taken over by China. And they risk their lives for it – as has been clear since the beginning of November at the latest.

Sources used: Visit to Hong Kong: on-site observations

Activist group Extinction Rebellion is quite present in the media. One expert assesses the importance of the troops in Germany differently: They are “” inflated a little “”.

According to protest researcher Dieter Rucht, the activist group Extinction Rebellion is so far a relatively small group in Germany. “” Extinction Rebellion is a bit inflated, more appearance than reality “, said Rucht of the German press agency. This can also be seen in the “” full-bodied announcements “” on the number of members and the number of national associations. The figures quoted by the group are “” not necessarily covered by reality.

Mainly present on the net

For example, only a small group of activists came to the group’s most recent actions in Berlin. Nevertheless, the group always made it into the media with their protest actions, which speaks for a certain professionalism. Rucht compared the structure of the movement with a franchise system: Just a few clicks were enough to be named on the website as a local group in the process of being founded. In this way, the activists gave the impression that the movement has many local groups around the world. “” But the presence is largely a web presence and not a physical presence. “”

Protest actions planned

Extinction Rebellion (in German: rebellion against extinction) originally comes from Great Britain. According to its own information, the group has also been in Germany since November last year. Starting Monday, the activists want to hinder traffic with peaceful protest actions on several days in Berlin and other metropolises around the world.

The planned blockade increases the risk of escalation, said the parliamentary manager of the FDP parliamentary group, Marco Buschmann, of the “” Passauer Neue Presse “”. “” Climate change is a human task that can only be solved by consensus. “” 

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 His parliamentary group leader Christian Lindner told the “Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung” that groups such as Extinction Rebellion called for traffic blockades in cities. Cars would be damaged and the owners insulted. “” Despite the importance of climate protection, for me understanding stops when violence is used. “”

Sources used: dpa news agency

Parcel carriers in Saxony are on sick leave almost 26 days a year, which is six days more than the average. “” The employees at post, courier and express services do a backbreaking job, “commented the Saxon Barmer boss Fabian Magerl on Tuesday an evaluation of his health insurance. With nine days, around 30 percent of absenteeism would be due to musculoskeletal disorders; across industries, it was around 20 percent in Saxony. Around 17,000 people are employed in this branch in the Free State. Most of the sick days (30.1) are spent by employees from retirement and nursing homes.

“” The schedule is tight for the deliverer. It is also not uncommon for a lot of stairs and long distances to be climbed with heavy luggage, “” said Barmer. The health of employees is more affected here than in many other professions.

According to Barmer, the sickness rate of delivery people nationwide is seven percent – in 2019, 70 out of 1,000 employees were absent from work due to illness. This was only 5 percent on average across all professional sectors. IT employees such as software developers are the healthiest. Everyone here only had 7.8 sick days a year, their sickness rate was 3.6 percent.

While parcel carriers were heavily burdened, especially before Christmas, in recent years, orders and deliveries now run throughout the year, it said: “” Customers can already use packing stations, parcel boxes or shops.