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Hong Kong: mass demonstration against repression
Socialist Action (CWI Hong Kong) reporters
On 20 August, up to 140,000 people poured onto Hong Kong's streets in the biggest anti-government protest since the 2014 'umbrella movement'. This incredible demonstration, protesting the imprisonment of 16 young democracy activists (including three student leaders of the 2014 movement), was called at just five days' notice.
By responding in such overwhelming numbers the people of Hong Kong provided a stark contrast to the pan-democratic opposition leaders who have been reluctant to call for protests despite the worsening crackdown by the pro-Beijing government.
Discontent has been building up in the face of a deepening crackdown that is blatantly coordinated to rig future elections (those jailed for three months or more are banned for five years from running in elections). But until now this discontent found no outlet to show itself openly.
The government's ultra-repressive master plan which includes ejecting elected legislators from the legislature and stepping up arrests and charges linked to political protests is clearly coordinated from Beijing to suit the needs of the Chinese dictatorship.
Now, the government of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has been thrown onto the defensive and is attempting to portray itself as a victim of unfair criticism. Nobody believes this.
Significantly, the march was initiated by smaller, more radical parties and groups including the left-leaning League of Social Democrats and the student-led Demosisto. The main pan-democratic organisations were forced to follow.
The urgent question now is how to follow up with further action. The strategy of the government is to ride out the storm of anger.
Socialist Action believes there is a historic opportunity to rebuild the democratic struggle, we cannot allow the mass anger and readiness to struggle to dissipate. But that needs a clear plan of escalating mass action to be put forward, including the need for a one-day strike to be called as the next step.
There is also the need to link the democracy struggle to the fight against capitalism, as well as linking to the struggle against dictatorship inside China.