Against the backdrop of mass protests in Hong Kong to demonstrate against the pervasive influence of mainland China in its governance, rallies have also been held in New York to show support. During last Saturday’s [10 August 2019] rally, Taiwanese, Tibetan and Uyghur expatriates joined to stand in solidarity with the Hong Kong protestors. This is indicative of the scope of China’s human rights abuses, as Tibetans, Taiwanese and Uyghurs in their home countries face many of the same restrictions on their freedoms.
Taiwanese, Tibetan and Uygur expatriates joined Hongkongers in New York on Saturday [10 August 2019] to show their support for the city’s anti-government protesters.
The demonstration at Pier 81 in midtown Manhattan was staged across the street from the Chinese consulate and attracted more than 100 people dressed in black and carrying yellow umbrellas – two of the symbols associated with the Hong Kong protest movement.
Overseas Hongkongers have staged a series of protests in recent weeks and the demonstrators on Saturday primarily consisted of students and professionals from the city. However, a number of Tibetans, Taiwanese and Uygurs were also involved.
“Our hearts share in the pride of seeing students, parents, grandparents on the streets of Hong Kong, proclaiming a story of intergenerational resistance,” said Canada-born Taiwanese Gloria Hu, a co-organiser from the Keep Taiwan Free group.
“For so many of us this struggle for freedom is not only this summer. We have been born into this struggle on the backs of our families and communities, who taught us that no matter where we are, no matter where we were born, our greater calling is to be a living testament to the resilience of our people,” Hu said.
“This greater calling is what allows us to stand wherever we are and say I am a proud Taiwanese, I am a proud of Hong Kong or I am a proud Tibetan.”
She said this was “the greatest fear of the Chinese Communist Party, which can only rule completely when this call no longer remains in the heart of a single Tibetan, Uygur, Hongkonger or Taiwanese”.
Dorjee Tseten, an activist with Students for a Free Tibet, said: “Today, I'm here to stand in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong more than ever before. The time has arrived for all of us to stand together, to fight for freedom and democracy.
“For the last 60 years, when people inside Tibet has been continuously fighting for our freedom, and they have not lost their hope.
“Today, we must tell the international community now is the time to stand with the people of Hong Kong, now is the time to do the right thing, now is the time to make sure that you are standing on the right side of the history.”
The rallies in New York have become a near weekly phenomenon amid growing unrest back in Hong Kong.
The protests grew out of opposition to a now shelved bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China and demonstrators have now set out a series of demands, including calls for an inquiry into allegations of police brutality and fully democratic elections.
On Saturday, the crowd in New York chanted repeatedly “Hong Kong, add oil!” – a popular rallying cry for the city’s protesters.
Participants also chanted: “What do we want? Democracy!”
“In many ways we want to express our concerns about the current suppression of freedom and human rights crisis in Hong Kong,” said one protesters, who only wished to be identified as Ken.
“One way is to urge US Congress and President Trump to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act to reaffirm the principles and the importance of Hong Kong remaining sufficiently autonomous from China,” said Ken.
“It also makes clear that applicants who reside in Hong Kong shall not be denied visas on the basis of the active arrest, detention, or other adverse government action taken as a result of their participation in non-violent activities.
“Most importantly, it sets a deadline of the year 2020, that there has to be improved universal suffrage, a truly democratic election of, not just half, but all of the seats in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. And also to set the deadline for the next Hong Kong chief executive election in 2022,” Ken said.
Alex Chow, a 29-year-old PhD student studying on the west coast of the US, said Hong Kong people have historically made concessions as they have “never had a chance to voice what we wanted” since the 1997 handover from British to Chinese rule.
“But you see thousands or millions of Hongkongers rallying to the streets, confronting brutality and indiscriminate attack from gangsters. Hongkongers have changed,” he said. “We need a change, a real one, and we need it now.”
Tear gas exposure at extradition bill protests causing Hong Kong journalists breathing and skin problems.
“We also urge the US government to stop selling tear gas and all the crowd control equipment to the Hong Kong police,” he added.
Social unrest in Hong Kong moved into a new phase on Saturday [10 August 2019], with a number of guerilla-style clashes between police and protesters at multiple locations across the city, where police again fired multiple rounds of tear gas and petrol bombs.
Nicole Izsak, one of the rally's organisers, said there was now an “existential” fear of 2047.
On Wednesday [07 August 2019], a group of Hongkongers delivered letters to the UN Security Council as part of the efforts to turn global attention onto the situation.
A group of 10 gathered in front of the UN headquarters in Manhattan and shouted, “Stand with Hong Kong!”
On Thursday [08 August 2019], the US accused the Chinese government of being behind the leak of a Hong Kong-based US diplomat’s personal information, after pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao disclosed details of the official’s personal information and the names of her children.
“That is what a thuggish regime would do,” US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.
Nicole Izsak, one of the organisers of Saturday’s rally told the protesters that “Hong Kong has woken up to the existential fear of 2047” – when the “one country, two systems” agreement expires.
“That's one of the motivating forces unleashed by the extradition bill. I urge you all to stay connected to continue to fight for Hong Kong, even though we're very far away,” she said.