Lam Kwok-lap | Radio Free Asia
Pan-democratic politicians in Hong Kong didn’t appear at official party in honor of China’s National Day on Saturday, they told Radio Free Asia (RFA).
The city’s chief executive Leung Chun-ying invited 4,000 guests, including senior government officials and lawmakers, to join him for a reception marking the 67th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China by Mao Zedong.
The party and cultural show was followed by the now-traditional fireworks display over Hong Kong’s iconic Victoria Harbor.
But at least 21 pan-democratic politicians, including existing and newly elected members of the Legislative Council (LegCo), snubbed Leung’s invitation, and staged protests outside the venue instead.
Shiu Ka-chun, a lawmaker representing the social welfare professions, said he didn’t go in protest over the recent violent crackdown on land protesters in the rebel village of Wukan, across the internal border in China’s Guangdong province.
“I won’t be going to the National Day reception because of what happened in Wukan,” Shiu told RFA. “I don’t think we have anything to celebrate.”
“I think it would go against our conscience to do that, and the conscience of Hong Kong people.”
‘A national tragedy’
Meanwhile, members of the League of Social Democrats said planned for a demonstration near the venue on Saturday calling on the ruling Chinese Communist Party to overturn the verdict of “counterrevolutionary rebellion” on the student-led democracy protests of 1989, which were bloodily suppressed by the People’s Liberation Army on June 4 that year.
“This isn’t a National Day celebration; it’s a national tragedy,” LSD deputy chairman Anthony Wong told RFA.
“When the Communist Party came to power, they said they were for the people, but we have seen that in today’s China, the rights enshrined in the constitution aren’t enforced.”
“There has been a draconian crackdown on human rights lawyers, and a proliferation of miscarriages of justice,” Wong said.
He said the Communist Party has already done considerable damage to Hong Kong’s traditional rights and freedoms, in spite of promising those rights and freedoms would remain for 50 years after the 1997 handover.
“The dictatorial regime in China has also had a huge impact on democracy, freedom, and the rule of law in Hong Kong,” Wong said. “This isn’t something to celebrate: it’s a disaster.”
Ted Hui, lawmaker-elect for the Democratic Party, who won his seat in LegCo polls earlier this month, planned to attend with some of his colleagues.
“I’ll be going along with six other people,” Hui told RFA. “Our thinking is that it’s a good opportunity to meet the chief executive in person and put our demands to him.”
“I don’t think there is much to celebrate either, but opportunities like that don’t come around very often,” he said.
“We won’t be going there to party, and we will make that clear to people when we go.”
Chung Kim-wah, assistant professor of applied social science at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said the pan-democrats are responding to an increasingly anti-Beijing mood in Hong Kong.
“Political parties have to be sensitive to public opinion, and so they have to take a position; they have to protest,” Chung said.
“It shows that there really has been a change in the political mood after the last two years of political debate.”
“The more they suppress Hong Kong people’s political aspirations for democracy, the more they will create a rebellious mood … and politicians need to reflect that mood through their actions,” he said.
The announcements by pan-democrats came after hundreds of people gathered under yellow umbrellas to mark the second anniversary of clashes with riot police that kicked off a 79-day civil disobedience campaign for fully democratic elections in Hong Kong.
Crowds of protesters occupied the city’s streets in rejection of Beijing’s proposals for preapproved slates of electoral candidates, using umbrellas to protect themselves from sun, rain, and pepper spray, and giving the Umbrella Movement its nickname.
The movement ended with no political victory however, and amid accusations from the ruling Chinese Communist Party that the protests were being orchestrated by “hostile foreign forces” behind the scenes.
But political analysts said it inspired a new generation to get involved in politics, with former protest leader Nathan Law, 23, becoming the youngest-ever candidate to win a seat in LegCo earlier this month.
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