Hong Kong’s Fight for Freedom | Denise Ho | Oslo Freedom Forum in Taiwan 2019


Liberate Hong Kong, the
revolution of our times. This has been the chant that has been ongoing
on the streets of Hong Kong for more than three months. From a one million people march, two million people march,
this has morphed into an ongoing fight that has wowed the world. For almost 100 day nows, Hong Kongers have moved
themselves into this frontline of a global fight. Our international port, that has not been historically
quite politically indifferent, has made a huge comeback from the ruins of the umbrella movement and leading
the world into this very global fight against the tyrants. This has been a leaderless movement
with total decentralization. This is a new generation who have witnessed
the rise and fall of the umbrella movement who knew what mistakes we have made, and who know that we need
to avoid and to learn from these mistakes through technology like online apps telegram apps, online forums, and also with
the unique flexibility and creativity of Hong Kong people. We have succeeded in sustaining this fight
for a very unexpected amount of time fighting the unshakable foundations
of this huge machine that is China. Since June, our Beijing appointed Chief
Executive Officer Carrie Lam has tried to push ahead this extradition bill that would potentially
have removed this wall between Hong Kong and China. Misjudging the situation, thinking that she could, again,
ignore the people’s voices, making mistake after mistake she has pushed millions, two million people,
onto the streets of Hong Kong. And also by hiding behind the police force,
refusing to resolve these political issues with political solutions, she has pushed our city
into this total police state. Since three months,
the police have been given full authority. On June 12th, they have utilized more than a few hundred
rounds of teargas onto the people, rubber bullets, sponge bullets. Charging onto people, arresting innocent citizens,
and also beating up people for no reason. And since then, they have been hiding,
deliberately hiding they’re identities hiding their warden cards, refusing to give out their identities,
charging into MTR stations, beating up people randomly and even going into
secondary schools’ areas. They have been calling
protestors cockroaches dehumanizing the people and
also legitimizing their own actions. So up to date, we have more 1,200 arrests, among which about
200 people being charged for riot and some for unlawful assembly. We have people being injured. This girl, she has been shot in the eye by a beanbag round,
therefore, risking permanent loss of vision. And also youngsters who have been beating up in the head
by batons and refused the help of first aiders. The government’s arrogance and also by hiding themselves
behind this authoritarian force which is the police they have pushed our city
into a deadlock position. Because they are refusing
to back down, and so are we. And although we have had a so called
withdrawal of the bill, this is still not a victory to us. In short, it’s too little, too late. Our five demands are still very clear. We are demanding for a independent investigative council
and also for the label of riot to be removed. For justice to be served. And also, of course, at the root
cause of all these problems we want a total political reform
of the Hong Kong government. So on its front, this all started
with an extradition bill. But really the fundamental conflicts is that
we have two totally different set of values. One that is the China model, which is ruling by fear
and demanding submission of the people. And on the other side, we have our hybrid and vibrant city
where we have had freedoms and human rights since the beginning of its existence. And also this deep attachment
to these universal values. So despite its originally clever
and goodwill of this design with the rise and immortalizing
of the iron regime of Xi Jinping. This one country two systems
model is doomed to fail. So right now, we are going through this
second wave of political repercussions. This tightening grip of the Beijing government
on Hong Kong affairs has been reaching out to all areas of our lives, including corporations like our major airline Cathay Pacific, being pressured to
firing pilots and employees over their political stance sometimes even only
because of a Facebook post. And we also have our MTR system – our subway system –
shutting down stations in moments of protest, therefore, helping the
police to arrest people. And also, of course, celebrities in Hong Kong, Taiwan,
and even China, being pressured into taking sides. These hashtag campaigns, that they
are pressured into participating. So when five or 10 years ago, celebrities could just
keep their silence in fear of having other complications. Now there is no space for staying neutral.
You simply have to choose sides. And the most terrifying thing is that
government institutions worldwide are being affected. Just recently, two weeks ago in Australia, an event has been denied a venue by a national NGV, the National
Gallery of Victoria, this art museum, because of security concerns. They have denied the application of the
venue to me and also to Chinese artist Badiucao. And also a gay pride in Montreal
has been banning these Hong Kong activist from their participation because
also of security concerns. So how do we counter this huge
machine that is bringing their values alongside their economic
powers into the world intimidating and silencing people, and
also demanding for people worldwide to oblige? As I have said in my previous speech
in the Oslo Freedom Forum in May this is the time for people to stand up. When government institutions and corporates have their
hand tieds, it is up to the people to get back that authority. When the system does not provide,
we take things in our own hands. Do your best in what you do best.
This always stays true. When we can stand together,
we can find the solutions as the Hong Kong demonstrators
have proudly showed the world including these campaigns
for crowd funding where we have raised more than five million
Hong Kong dollars within hours to post, to put these ads onto newspapers worldwide
that stand with Hong Kong at G20 Summit. And also people pitching in anonymously. These designers giving out their talent and artwork
to help promote different events and strategies that happen discussed and get going ahead with
the participation of other protestors. And also these Lennon Walls
that have been appearing in more than 100 areas of Hong Kong – that have been
ripped apart and then put up again over night. And our youngsters in the front lines learning on the job, but not job, on the road,
and, sorry, that would cause some smearing there. And, you know, just making shift up, everything they can, any object that they grab onto,
like making shields out of signs, road signs, out of water bottles. Water bottles. And, also, you must have seen this on social media
where we have overcome our fear by learning to extinguish the weapons from the other side
with water, with thermos, and even with tennis rackets. And also this is really a widespread participation, not only
of the youngsters in the front lines, but really everybody. We have elderly standing
in front of police. We have people from all
walks of life joining in and also people coming
to save the other people. This very amazing image
of a Hong Kong Dunkirk where volunteer drivers came to rescue some of
the protestors who were trapped at the airport. So in these very desperate times,
what we need to do is really to pitch in. By having everyone playing their part, we can have a
thriving battle with the whole community. No one person is too weak. And in the face of this global fight against these
authoritarians for our humanity, we need to stand together. Just right here, you know, form communities.
Get to know the people around you. By making these alliances, even cross border,
we can find solutions as a global community. Stand up for ourselves. Be naughty. Be rebellious. Be fearless. And most of all, be water. Thank you.

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