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Spinning round and round

September 5, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Protesters have just about ground Hong Kong to a halt. They have braved water, pepper spray, brutal police and jail (and they were released, which in mainland China might never have happened).

Their protests were very rightly about the threat of the thick edge of the wedge of Chinese demanding extradition for all prisoners to be sent to mainland China for trial, a system that finds up to 90% of accused guilty. The initial protests were for that proposed law to be completely trashed.

Further, protesters have added to their demands that Hong Kong be a place of complete democracy, not a system of voting for Governors, from Beijing’s chosen candidates.

They want the police to be accountable.

The students are walking from their classes; the protesters are facing stringent push-back from the police but they keep coming back over and over anyway, setting fires in the streets; stopping traffic and shutting down the airport. 

Hong Kong billionaires in their towers tremble at the cost of this situation to their businesses and the markets shake.

On the edge, the government in Beijing watches and worries. While it rebuffs the opinion of the world, it hesitates to move in, as it might, as it has, on the mainland. 

In the U.K., people are marching on Parliament and in many cities, calling for sanity in Westminster, about the idea of Britain leaving the EU without any kind of an agreement. The current non-elected but designated, really, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, seems quite delusional about the prospects for his country should he actually achieve what he plans, which is to separate Britain from Europe, like ripping an appendage, bleeding and torn, without so much as a bandaid for healing. 

Cold-hearted maybe, but clear-headed for sure, financiers, on the top floors of banks and at the UN, state flatly the devastating consequences of this for Britain and one wonders, if it all happens for the worst, if the Queen will have to present her passport on her way to her estates at Balmoral, Scotland. Surely, Scotland will, with equal vigour, cut its own ties with England and declare independence. 

So far, there has been little in the way of rough policing of these protests, although no crowd assembles without supervision. 

In all this is Northern Ireland, whose sudden hardening of its border with the south –  as must be the case with a no-deal deal – could well see violent protests, answered by soldiers and police with brutality enough.

We look at China and think it couldn’t happen here. However, remember when Stephen Harper, at his most unreasonable, held the G20 summit in central Toronto, where such a collection of leaders is usually hosted in a safe and scenic place well away from urban centres. There was a wall built around the section of downtown Toronto, housing the summit and its dignitaries. 

There was, especially staged, we thought at the time, a planned over-reaction to inevitable protesters, “corralling” them without process and including tourists and others, who were nothing to do with any of it, and locking them up in standing-room-only facilities for many hours. 

Those protesters had gathered initially for humanitarian reasons, for those in poverty and minorities. However, darker elements did enter into the fray and the police took the line that everyone was guilty.

Still and all, what if, in any these places, the protests were as they are in Hong Kong now? Do we believe our police would do less than the HK police are doing? Would there be no tear gas, no water, no pushing or arrests? In England, France, here? 

How would such chaos fare in the United States?

Over this year, students have walked out of school and protested against the inaction for our current climate crisis and, across the board, these – you could hardly call them protests, so mild and polite are they – have not upset anyone, not caused financial concern, not incurred any arrests…

But, if the people who have been truly affected by the devastation of climate change marched, how loudly would they shout? What if they could bring some animals that are going to suffer and become extinct, on leashes – a polar bear, leopard, a butterfly riding on a child’s pigtail?

The big question is how to protest so that anyone cares. The other is why is this the only way issues of real importance can move forward?

We listen to candidates yak on, saying the same thing – sometimes, at each other! What we want is someone who has seen and, as a consequence, believes that, all this time, we’ve been doing it wrong. That the distribution of wealth is an obscenity; that the planet – um – and us – are truly in danger; that there are possible solutions; that they must be implemented now. That industry must be told so, not pandered to.



         

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