WE CAN’T PLEASE A DICTATOR, HAVE TO STAND UP FIRMLY: HONG KONG ACTIVIST - The Daily Guardian
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WE CAN’T PLEASE A DICTATOR, HAVE TO STAND UP FIRMLY: HONG KONG ACTIVIST

Hong Kong activist Chow Hang Tung was arrested by Chinese authorities on the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, and released after 42 hours of detention. The absurd charges against her were an abuse of power, she says.

Gauri Kundalia

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Hong Kong activist Chow Hang Tung was arrested by the authorities on Friday on the anniversary of Beijing’s Tiananmen crackdown, and later released after 42 hours of detention. Chow, the vice chairperson of the Hong Kong Alliance in support of Patriotic Democratic News of China, said that the absurd charges against her were an abuse of power. 

Q. Please take us through the events of 4 June.

A: Well, I was just leaving our office because actually, they had been following me the day before. So on 3 June, I just discovered people following me around so I did not go home that night and stayed in my office as it is relatively safer for my friends and relatives. So, I stayed up late at night and left that morning to attend a radio show in the morning. As soon as I got out of the office building, they came over and said they were arresting me.  

Q: So, were you involved in any protests to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre on the date? 

A:Our group, the Hong Kong Alliance, has been organizing the vigils every year on 4 June to mourn those killed in Beijing’s deadly 1989 crackdown on democracy supporters in Tiananmen Square. This year’s vigil was banned by Hong Kong police which cited the coronavirus pandemic to ban any formal assembly; so what we are doing is that we are asking all to still remember the day in their own way and in their own name. 

And as for myself, I’ve been saying that I will still go to Victoria Park, which is the place where we have the vigils each year. So, my plan was that you still go there like we do each year with candles, and maybe sing some songs and make some statements. That was the plan but I was not allowed to carry it out. 

 Q: Help us to understand what happened after that when you were taken into detention.

A: I’m quite calm in the sense that you saw that coming. You saw it coming, but the timing is a bit unexpected. In a way, I thought they were there doing the usual rounds, but they started angry utterances early on that day. If nothing had happened and we had gone out according to our plan, maybe people who were still frightened would not have been willing to come out. But when you made this arrest earlier in the morning, everyone got angry and felt that they had a strong need to come out and make the point that we should not be frightened by unreasonable arrests and suppression. 

Q: What happened in detention when you were detained by the authorities?

A: Well actually, after arresting me, they took me right to the central police station, which is the station closest

to my office. And they just let me be there, they did not question me, they did not do anything, they just let me be there and ignored me for the whole day basically. So, it was just quite obvious that the point of the arrest was to stop me from making any public protests or commemoration.

So, the whole day, they did nothing and then, suddenly, they started searching my home, my father’s home, my mother’s home (because they’re divorced), they had a search warrant for the address  related to me. I have not ever actually lived there, but anyway, they searched; it seems like it’s a way to put pressure on my relatives. Well, if you associate with people like that, you get harassed by the police anyway, so after that they took me back to the police station and it was already quite late in the evening. 

Even in the middle of the night, they woke you up again and said they had to take all belongings for the court. They did this quite a few times during the evening, so you never really get any sleep. And then, the next morning again, there was another round of interrogation. 

Q: Ok, 32 hours of not just targeting you, but also your family, your parents and closed ones?

A: They searched my parents’ place.  

Q: What gives you the courage to speak up? Are you fearful of anything despite being so brave?

A: This is the right thing to do, right? It’s I think not that complicated. You just don’t want to compromise on your principles and what you think is right. It’s a promise to the victims, to the families who are still fighting for justice, that we will not give up this fight and it’s not just an empty promise that we will do this when the time is good, it’s more important we do this thing when the time is bad. So yeah, I mean that’s part of it as it was the right thing to do. The other reason is that your friends are currently in jail, or being otherwise suppressed or bullied by the Chinese Communist Party. These people will stay in jail. These people will still continue to suffer. The only way to get everyone out and free them is to fight on. So why not, why not fight on? 

Q: 4 June was the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The same party rules China right now. The brutal crackdown on students and activists continues not just in China, but in many of its occupied territories as well. How do you look at this?

A: It doesn’t know that such brutal oppression cannot continue forever. They know that all this control on society is maintained on a very fine balance. People may finally find the opportunity to come together. They may topple the regime, so they have to crack down.  It is not us. I mean you asked why we are not scared because we’re doing the right thing, but they know they are doing the wrong thing; they know they are. They are putting people who are innocent, who are righteous in jail. They know that they are restricting our freedom without any reason. Everything is done for the maintenance of their power, which is wrong.

Q: Speaking of Hong Kong, the protests continue and so do the crackdowns, the arrests, detentions. How has the past year been for the people of Hong Kong? 

A: Oh, I would have to say that it has been difficult because a lot of activist friends and colleagues are being put in jail; people are being restricted from all political life, you see people around you disappearing. So it has been a big period of adjustment and of fear. 

After 4 June, you see all these people coming back onto the streets. I mean because the national security law imposed on us was really a shock to many people here and people are at a loss about how to respond to it. But I think people are now slowly starting to find the courage to come out and act again and to fight in new ways. Maybe in new forms. But people are still fighting on. 

Q: Miss Chow, when you look around the world today, do you see support for the cause of Hong Kong, or do you sometimes feel that the world has abandoned the people of Hong Kong? 

A: Actually, I think Hong Kong people are quite fortunate compared to a lot of people who are undergoing suppression under the Communist Party, say the Tibetans or other such people. Their cause has been receiving less attention internationally; but for a small place like Hong Kong, we have been getting quite a lot of international attention. 

For example, there have been quite a large number of international media reports on the 4 June crackdown, and of course, personally, on my arrest as well, for which we are grateful. I don’t think I feel abandoned. I still feel that the international community is really supporting us and that support is important. I would even say that support is part of the reason why on 4 June, they told me that I’m not going to get out.

Q: What is your message to the rest of the world? As somebody who suffered oppression at the hands of the Chinese first hand, what would you like to say to the rest of the world?

A: Do not believe that you can please the dictator; you have to stand up firmly. You have to fight for your principles and that’s the only way to survive. You have to fight and stand firm. We all have to fight together in solidarity against this dictatorship.

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