Friday, October 4, 2019

Global Anti-Totalitarianism March, New York Solidarity Assembly for Hong Kong, New Mask Law Cracks Down on Dissent, #HongKongProtests

A man in a mask in a solidarity action for Hong Kong in New York City.
This sort of mask at a protest  has now been outlawed by Carrie Lam.
A group of activists were arrested under the NYC mask law for this action on Mayday 2001. It's never a good idea to start banning activists from wearing masks in public! Not in New York, not in Hong Kong!
New York stands with Hong Kong! It's the front line of global battles against totalitarianism! Stay strong!

"Embracing heart @fathanks Hongkong is at humanitarian crisis when our government enact the anti-mask law with a draconian emergency law. The outrageous police brutality will be even more severe."

Last  week,  my friend Laurie, an  ACT UP veteran, who has been a part of the Hong Kong protests for months, years now, sent  me an email inviting me to a solidarity action.
The facebook account announced:

Pier 81, across the street from Chinese consulate (West Side Highway and 42nd street)there will be a sit-in assembly featuring a series of speeches and solidarity actions.
How to Prepare:
1. Wear black
2. Please bring your own signs.
3. You may bring your own masks and wear sunglasses
4. Please bring your own water
5. Please practice the song ‘’Glory to Hong Kong’’ and we will sing together.
Purpose: Hong Kong’s anti-extradition protests of the past three months have revealed the face of Chinese authoritarianism and government-triad collusion to the world. Under the iron fist of this grossly unjust system, countless protesters and journalists were beaten by the police and arbitrarily charged with rioting.

We must support Hong Kong’s ongoing struggle by raising awareness among New Yorkers and lobbying Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act as soon as possible to punish all officials responsible for suppressing the freedoms of Hongkongers.”

At the rally I ran into friends from Rise and Resist.
My friend Jackie Off was there with her girlfriend.
Hong Kong is the frontline of global protests against totalitarianism, she said.
Members of ACT UP were there.

Activists distributed “the Hong Kong Protesters letter to the free world” calling for autonomy.
“We HongKongers believe in freedom and democracy, in universal values which traverse all races and groups of interest, and in the glorious light of human goodness.  Here, we call for the free world to join us and stand as one against the greatest threat it has ever seen.  History shall demand no less from a world which wishes to be free.”

Democracy, plain and simple, the actions call for the world to support this idea.  These days it feels sorely lacking.  Our president supports totalitarian powers, such as Russian,  using our foreign policy as leverage for personal gain. Unlike the Cold War days when we supported international dissidents, such as Alexandr Solzhenitsen, today one hears very little from US leaders about Hong Kong.

In the street, the energy was cracking, we sang and  talked, and sent photos around the world.
Its like the international, noted Jackie.

A journalist with the Epoch Times interviewed me about why I was there.

In the week that followed, activists in Hong Kong pushed into the streets to condemn the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China:
“In the past  70 years, we, the Hong Kongers, have been the closest witnesses to the innumerable crimes committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

An NBC report from  June of 1989, titled referred to the Chinese government opening fire on civilians.

Since then, this feeling  has only intensified among Hong Kongers.

My friend  Erica Fox Brindley Penn State, who teaches Asian Studies at Penn State writes:

“Talking about the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China (Oct. 1, 1949) with my Mom today, who was a teenager when she and her family fled the country on a boat to Taiwan. Trying to ascertain concrete dates and information from her impressionistic memory of the civil war was a real task – was it 1948 or 1949 when she left? This is what I could piece together, although I still have so many questions.
My Gonggong (grandfather) was a chief engineer of the many arsenals being erected by the Nationalist (non-Communist) Government, which was at war with the Communists. For that reason, my Mom, who was originally from Zhejiang Province, actually spent most of her childhood in Sichuan, where the Nationalists retreated for many years during their efforts. By about 1948, the family had relocated to what is now Wuhan City, where my Gonggong was in charge of the 26th Arsenal in Hanyang. When things were looking really bad, he told my grandmother (Puopuo) to take the 3 kids (the 4th was studying at Nankai university up North, an area already taken over by the Communists, and cut off from communication) and flee to Taiwan, as many Nationalists were doing as a last-resort. Puopuo would be assisted by my Grandfather's colleague, Mr. Feng, and Mr. Feng's family, who would occupy the cabin next to theirs. My Mom went a last day to the private school she was attending. She remembers having to get up in front of the whole class and announce that she and her family were leaving to Taiwan. Apparently, there was a lot of envy, fear, and crying. Who, of that more privileged crowd, wanted to be left behind in China?
On the boat, Mom threw up her guts. There was a typhoon (does this help with the timing? I'm thinking at least July, maybe 1949?). Things got so bad at one point that the crew put on their life jackets and got out the rescue boats, but the ship actually did make it. From Wuhan to Gaoxiong (Kaohsiung), in the South of Taiwan. Since my Gonggong had to take up a post in Sichuan as the Chief Engineer of the 23rd Arsenal, he didn't come along. But he DID make it out to meet up with the family in Taiwan later, on what my Mom claims was the last flight out of the mainland. He was given bars of gold at that point to buy his plane ticket, but instead of keeping the change, he sent what he didn't use back...probably to end up in Communist hands shortly thereafter.
My Mom's sister, a college student who was not with her family when they had to flee, was left behind in China and spent her remaining decades (till she passed in her 80's, about a decade ago) in China, persecuted because her of her family's association with the evil Nationalist devils, and sent down to the countryside on Hainan island to do hard labor. I have a recording of my aunt (Dayi) telling me how she had contemplated suicide over and over, but I couldn't get more of the story out without her breaking into tears, even 50+ years after the fact.
So this date, 70 years ago, commemorates the creation of a state that my relatives worked hard to prevent.”

All week, activists in Hong Kong protested the anniversary, reminding the world of the horrors, mass starvation, famine, and human rights violations witnessed by the People Republic of China.
Those in the streets were met with arrests, teargas, and a live round, when they  protested.

Breaking: A source confirmed a man was shot by police in Hong Kong's Tseun Wan district, where protests earlier turned violent. This is the first time lethal force has been used in four months of unrest. #HongKongProtests

The totalitarian turn only intensified as the week continued.
“Carrie Lam invoked emergency powers in Hong Kong and announced that the anti-mask law would take effect at midnight as a “deterrent against masked violent protesters and rioters”. #HongKongProtests
“Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has banned people from using face masks during protests and in all public assemblies by invoking rarely-used emergency powers and thousands of people took to the streets in protest of the ban.

In response, activists citywide, hit the streets in what will amount to a new round of protests,  possibly larger than the ones against the extradition law. 
 " Protesters wearing masks fill the main roads of Hong Kong after the government announced a face mask ban."

Certainly the Mask Law is an attack on free speech.
Here in New York, we have  a mask law that has been in place since 1845.
It is selectively enforced against protesters regularly.
In 2001,  a group of us in  Reclaim  the Streets saw police crack  down on a street theater performance during Mayday.

“The arresting officer, Michael Galgano, shield 02671 of the Patrol Boro Manhattan South Task Force, invoked the Mask Law of 1845, a little-known law cited in the opening quote above. Like many of the police officers under the Giuliani administration, he was aware of the precise phrasing of this law and used that phrasing in his police report to justify his arrest: [...] (ii) amidst said gathering, the deponent observed approximately five individuals wearing masks that covered their faces; (iii) the deponent observed that said individuals with masks were congregating together in that they were in proximity to each other and were engaged in some form of performance together; (iv) said congregation of individuals wearing masks was not a masquerade party or like entertainment where permission was first obtained from the police; (v) the deponent observed that one of said individuals wearing a mask was a man wearing a business suit, a tie with pictures of United States currency on it, and a red mask [...]. (People of the State of New York v. Garet [sic] Ramirez 2001; emphasis added) In short, Ramirez was pinched for wearing a mask on the streets of New York City as part of his costume in a political performance for a legally permitted labor demonstration.”

No longer a model of democracy, the US government  is not speaking out on the crackdown on  free speech.

Nancy Pelosi condemned the authoritarian turn. ‘Hong Kong invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to ban face masks does not answer the people's grievances, and only intensifies concerns about freedom of expression.
Pelosi has already lead congress to pass the
Hong Kong Human Rights & Democracy Act”.
She writes on facebook:

The whole world needs to support Hong Kong. 

No comments:

Post a Comment