As the days of 2021 diminished, so did any trace of democracy left in Hong Kong.
On Wednesday, a pro-democratic media -one of the last openly critical voices in the city- closed after a police raid. In early December, the opposition was excluded from the elections under a new law that subjects all candidates to a loyalty test. And the monuments commemorating the protests were removed from the Plaza de Tiananmen 1989.
Over and over again throughout the year, city authorities and the central government of Beijing they wiped out almost everything the pro-democracy movement had stood for. The activists fled abroad or were locked up under the draconian National Security Law imposed in the city 18 months ago. Unions and other independent organizations closed.
Where before Hong Kong allowed “open opposition and questioning of major policies and the legitimacy of the government … any meaningful political debate will now take place among a small circle of government loyalists“, He said Kurt Tong, partner of The Asia Group and former consul general of state United in Hong Kong Y Macao.
The days when the former British colony was considered a bastion of freedom fade in memory. Back to China in 1997, Hong Kong it has endured a review of its political system and a crackdown on political dissent. Authorities tried to stifle anti-government sentiment that led to months of political fighting in 2019.
The most recent example was the raid carried out on Wednesday by the police of Hong Kong in the pro-democracy online media Stand News. Seven people were arrested – including two current and former editors and four former members of the board of directors, including a popular singer, Denise Ho– for alleged sedition under an ordinance of the colonial era.
The media announced that same afternoon the cessation of its activities.
Stand News It is the second communication medium that closes after being subjected to the authorities of Hong Kong. The newspaper Apple Daily It closed in early 2021, after authorities raided its offices a second time and frozen millions in assets.
“Democracy has been the subject of a sustained assault for well over a year in Hong Kong“, He said Luke de Pulford, a coordinator of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, based in London, a group of legislators from democratic countries focused on relations with China. “No democracy can function without a free press”.
“If critical information about the administration in Hong Kong or China cannot be published, then the last vestiges of democracy that existed, I think we have to say, have faded.”.
In a string of tweets, the activist of Hong Kong Nathan Law asked the world that “post about Hong Kong … (and) about the brave journalists who risk so much”. Law, who fled to London following security enforcement, said he feared “a domino effect”That will lead to other media to close.
Little remains of the pro-democracy movement of Hong Kong. More than 100 pro-democracy figures and others have been detained under the security law, which penalizes actions considered separatist or subversive by the governments of Hong Kong The China.
Among them 47 people are accused of subversion in February for their participation in an unofficial primary election held in 2020 to determine the best candidates for the planned legislative elections.
Authorities accused the activists of subversion, saying they planned to win a majority and use it to paralyze the government and eventually force the leader of Hong Kong, Carrie Blue, to resign.
The government postponed the 2020 elections, citing public health risks stemming from the COVID-19. Then the central government of Beijing announced new electoral laws earlier this year that reduced the proportion of directly elected seats to less than a quarter and required all candidates to be loyal to Beijing.
The results were predictable: Earlier this month, when the elections finally took place, lawmakers pro-Beijing they won a landslide victory. The largest opposition party in the city, the Game Democratic, did not present any candidate for the first time since the 1997 handover.
This year, several pro-democracy unions and organizations have also been dissolved. The largest teachers union in the city was dissolved in August due to the political climate, followed later by the largest independent union in the city.
The Civil Human Rights Front, a pro-democracy group that organized some of the biggest protests of 2019, also disbanded following a police investigation under the law of Security National.
Other pro-democracy activists have also been arrested for participating in unauthorized protests and the annual candlelight vigil of Tiananmen, which has been banned for two consecutive years. Most of the city’s pro-democracy activists are behind bars or have fled abroad.
At the end of the year several works of art commemorating the massacre of Tiananmen.
Two days before Christmas, the Hong Kong University ordered the removal of the monument Pillar of Shame, depicting a pile of torn and twisted bodies of the victims of Tiananmen, alleging legal risks. Other universities followed suit, eliminating pro-democracy statues and Tiananmen.
The Communist Party of China been trying to erase for a long time Tiananmen of the public conscience in the continent, prohibiting any commemorative act. Now he seems determined to do the same in Hong Kong in the name of restoring the stability of the city.
(C) The Associated Press.-