Monday, 25 April 2011

Hear Them Out

The Falun Gong marching down Queens Road Central

It looked like an innocent Sunday parade passing through Central, with the bright shiny yellow outfits and banging of the drums.

But in fact it was the Falun Gong marching from North Point to the liaison office in Sheung Wan. Some 400 members were in the procession with members from Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. They were also carrying signs calling for the end of the persecution of this "religion" on the mainland, which China brands a cult.

The Falun Gong were preceded by protesters led by the League of Social Democrats and April Fifth Action group demanding the release of artist and activist Ai Weiwei who has been detained for over three weeks now. They chanted, "Let Ai Weiwei go home" and threw yellow pieces of paper on the ground representing offerings to the dead.

On Saturday some 1,000 people also protested against Ai's illegal detainment in Tsim Sha Tsui, having a few scuffles with police but on the whole quite peaceful.

It's great that Hong Kong continues to uphold freedom of speech which is why protest marches are a weekly ritual here.

However, there are some more radical protesters who believe physical action is more effective in getting attention for their cause. The more recent incidents are when Chief Executive Donald Tsang was allegedly hit in the chest by someone, and then yesterday protesters confronted Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen at an event at the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Park in Western district to commemorate the 1911 revolution.

They chanted slogans loudly and at one point one broke through an entrance while Tang was speaking but was stopped by police.

Most Hong Kong people seem shocked by what they describe as violent rowdy behaviour. They cannot fathom why young people are taking such measures to get their point across.

However, if put into perspective, what these "radical" protesters are doing is hardly as extreme as say G8 summit protesters who are willing to incite actual violence.

The Hong Kong protesters are using alternative means to protest but on the whole they are still technically peaceful.

And if they are resorting to what people deem as extreme actions, then perhaps the government should really consider what these young protesters are saying and listen to them.

They are the future of the city and they want to have a say in how it's run. So why not start a dialogue and hear what they have to say?

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