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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STERLING’S STRIKE HELPS ENGLAND DEFEAT CROATIA
Raheem Sterling, center, celebrates after scoring goal during the Euro 2020 soccer championship match between England and Croatia at Wembley stadium in London.
A thunderous goal from Raheem Sterling helped England defeat Croatia 1-0 in the Group D encounter of the ongoing European Championships here at the Wembley Stadium on Sunday. England managed to gain full three points from the match against Croatia and now the Three Lions will lock horns against Scotland on June 18 while Croatia will square off against Czech Republic on the same day.
The first half between England and Croatia saw no goals and as a result, the scoreline remained 0-0 at halftime. In the first half, England held on to the ball for 58 per cent of the match, while Croatia held on to it for 42 per cent. The deadlock was finally broken in the 57th minute as Raheem Sterling registered the goal for England. This was Sterling’s first goal at a major tournament. Kalvin Phillips made a stunning run as he beat two players and then he went on to pass the ball to Sterling, and he did not disappoint and successfully netted the ball into the goalpost.No more goals were possible in the match, and in the end, England went away with a 1-0 victory. Austria will lock horns against North Macedonia while in another match, Netherlands and Ukraine will be squaring off against each other.
Mizoram man who headed world’s largest family dies
Ziona Chana, the man from Mizoram believed to head the world’s largest family with at least 39 wives and 94 children and 33 grandchildren, died on Sunday at the age 76.
Taking to Twitter, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Sunday bid farewell to him. “With heavy heart, Mizoram bid farewell to Mr. Zion-a (76), believed to head the world’s largest family, with 38 wives and 89 children. Mizoram and his village at Baktawng Tlangnuam has become a major tourist attraction in the state because of the family. Rest in Peace Sir!” he tweeted along with a group picture of the huge family.
Zion-a featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not in 2011 and 2013 for having the world’s largest family.
He reportedly lived with his family in a large 100-room, four-story building.
We will be part of the next Union cabinet expansion: JD-U chief
Amid the speculations of the Union Cabinet expansion, R.C.P. Singh, National president of the NDA-ally Janata Dal (United) on Sunday said that JDU is part of the alliance of the ruling NDA coalition at the Centre and the party will be part of the Cabinet whenever there is an expansion.
“There is no confusion. We are a part of NDA. Whenever there will be an expansion in the cabinet in Centre, JD (U) will be part of it,” he said.
At present, the JD(U) has no representation in the Union Cabinet. the JD(U) contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in alliance with the BJP.
However, RCP Singh chose not to comment on the inclusion of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) in the ‘cabinet expansion’.
Singh also mentioned that everything is good in the alliance in Bihar and there are no clashes in the NDA-led government in the state. “Everyone is together in the NDA in Bihar. The NDA government will complete its present term in Bihar. Everyone is working towards the development of the state,” the JD(U) chief said.
“The RJD is spreading rumours that nothing is good in the NDA to keep its MLA together. There is everything good in NDA but there are clashes in the RJD,” he added.
First three desi nuclear attack submarines to be 95% made in India
In what would be a major boost for the submarine building capability within the country, the first three nuclear attack submarines to be built indigenously would be having 95 per cent Made in India content in them and it would further go up in the next three. The Cabinet Committee on Security is considering a proposal worth around Rs 50,000 crore for indigenously building three nuclear attack submarines which would be built by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Visakhapatnam. This project is separate from the Arihant class project under which six nuclear-powered submarines are being built with the capability of launching ballistic missiles.
“The nuclear attack submarine project would be a big boost for the indigenous submarine capability as 95 per cent of it would be made in India. This would provide a big boost to the domestic defence sector including both private and public sector,” government sources told ANI.
For the six nuclear attack submarines, the planners are confident that they would be able to complete the project without any external help but if required, they may take help of one of its strategic partner countries, they said.
The project would also be very helpful for the economy as it is expected to generate a large number of jobs in the defence sector, the sources said.
The Navy and DRDO would first get a clearance for three of these boats and will have the option of building three more after the completion of this project. The Indian Navy proposal to have six indigenous nuclear attack submarines was one of the first few major defence modernisation proposals to have been cleared by the Narendra Modi government soon after it came to power in 2014.
Even though marred by some delays, India has been making big headways in the field of indigenous submarine building capability. The first Arihant class boat was commissioned a few years ago and the second one INS Arighat is also undergoing sea trials and is expected to be commissioned in near future.
India has plans of building 24 submarines including six nuclear attack ones which would give it long legs to operate in the Indian Ocean Region and will help it to keep its adversaries in check at long distances.
The first six conventional boats are already under construction in Mumbai under the Kalavati class project while the tender for the next six with greater capability would be issued soon after recent clearance by the Defence Ministry. There is a plan to build six more conventional submarines under the Project 76 but it will take a long time to be initiated.
SECOND WAVE WASHES AWAY DABBAWALAS’ HOPES, FORCES THEM TO TAKE OTHER JOBS
Currently, many dabbawalas are jobless, some of them have returned to their villages while others had to find new ways to earn their livelihood. According to the members of the Mumbai Dabbawala Association, many bicycles can be seen outside railway stations in this lockdown but there are not as many dabbawalas.
The pandemic has brought a halt to their lives. Only some of them are working and delivering dabbas in hotels and hospitals while the rest are earning their livelihood through other means. Some dabbawalas have become auto drivers or are selling vegetables to earn money.
Mumbai’s 130-year-old dabba delivery system has over 5,000 dabbawalas like Kailash Shinde who now operates and provides dabbas for hotels and travels from Andheri to Malad to Borivali and Bandra.
Since trains are being used only for essential services, dabbawalas face a lot of problems in travelling. Due to the lockdown, the places have been shut where they used to deliver dabbas.
Subhash Talekar, President, Mumbai Dabbawala Association says “we demanded the state government to allow us to travel in local trains as essential workers are being allowed. We should also get a nod to commute in trains as it gets difficult to go by any other vehicle to far off places. Lockdown has affected our economy drastically”
A dabbawala told us how this lockdown has impacted his life. Kailash lives in a chawl system in Andheri with his wife and two children. The pandemic and the lockdown have caused a lot of damage to dabbawalas. Kailash showed us his house and opened up about the difficulties he is facing due to the lockdown.
He says, “Before the lockdown, I had a team of 18 people and used to earn from Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000 from one house and had over 400 orders. But after the lockdown, I have a team of only three people and fewer orders. Now we get only Rs 5000 to Rs 6000 in which we have to survive as the money is divided among three people.”
Kailash and his wife earn to manage somehow and give good education to their children. His wife also works to support her husband and family, yet this is not enough.
Due to the pandemic, Kailash had to face commuting hurdles as half of the money earned goes into travelling. In an emotional appeal to the government, he says, “I request the government to look into the matter and allow us to travel in trains as the lockdown has greatly affected our economy. If trains are opened for dabbawalas, then it will be a ray of sunshine for them from the dark clouds of lockdown.”
Experts find no proof of 3rd wave hitting kids hard, but states in no mood to take chance
With 80,834 Covid-19 reported cases in the last 24 hours, India continued its declining trend of new infections and reported the lowest single-day count in 71 days, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Sunday.
The new cases pushed the Covid case tally in the country to 2,94,39,989. India has been witnessing a continuous fall in the active caseload and the current active number of Covid cases stands at 10,26,159 with a net decrease of 54,531 cases in the last 24 hours.
The weekly positivity rate further dropped to less than 5 per cent and currently stands at 4.74 per cent while the daily positivity rate stands at 4.25 per cent today. It has remained less than 10 per cent for 20 consecutive days now.
Despite the downward trend, most states seem to be gearing up for the anticipated third wave, especially on creating infrastructure for paediatric wards, given the buzz that the coming wave might hit kids particularly hard. In view of the pandemic, the states have kept the health budget of 8-14 % for the current year. The Delhi government allocated Rs 9,934 crore or 14% of the total budget to health. CM Arvind Kejriwal on 12 June cautioned that the chances of the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic were quite real, while he asserted that his government was preparing on a “war-footing” to combat it.
The Kerala government allocated Rs 2,800 crore to deal with the health emergency. The third wave of Covid-19 is expected to arrive in October, necessitating a larger budget for Covid mitigation.
Bihar has kept Rs 13,264 crore on health this year. The health department has focused its attention on arranging beds with medical facilities for children who, experts fear, could be mostly affected in the third wave. Currently, there are 816 beds for children in the nine medical college hospitals in the state. Of these, only 225 have oxygen facilities.
Uttar Pradesh allocated 5.5 per cent of its total expenditure for health. CM Yogi Adityanath said that the state is now preparing for a probable third wave. Paediatric ICUs in district hospitals and mini-PICU in community health centres were being operationalised. A new 20-bed PICU has been planned for Deoria and a mini-PICU in Laar.
Incidentally, as the states gear up to ramp up their paediatric wards, a new report says that there’s no substantial evidence to suggest that children will be more affected or have greater illness severity in the anticipated third wave.
The Lancet Covid-19 Commission India Task Force prepared the report after convening an experts group comprising leading paediatricians from the country to examine the issue of ‘paediatric Covid-19’ in India. It said that the infection’s symptomatology in children in India appears to be globally comparable.
“Most children with Covid-19 are asymptomatic, and amongst those symptomatic mild infections are predominant. Most children have fever with respiratory symptoms, and often present with gastrointestinal symptoms and a typical manifestation compared to adults. The proportion of symptomatic children increases as age increases as does the severity in such age groups,” the report started.
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