Looking at Hong Kong’s recent protests through two historical massacres

Introduction

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Photo credit: here
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Photo Credit: here
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Photo Credit: here

1. What happened at Peterloo and why?

[I rely on Wikipedia for this section as I have no access to scholarly materials on this incident, if you feel that this discredits my argument then simply ignore all comments on what happened at Peterloo]

  1. Poor economic conditions
  2. Lack of suffrage in Northern England

2. What happened at St. Petersburg and why?

Many intellectuals in St. Petersburg believed that absolute monarchy was the cause of the numerous problems troubling the Tsarist Russia in 1915. Tsar Nicholas II’s determination to continue the Russo-Japanese War baffled his ministers, the massive defeat and the economic strain this War has inflicted on Russia caused great displeasure among the Russians.

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Ilya Repin’s “17 October 1905”

The legality of protests

Many of the ‘middle of the road’ Hong-Kongers who support this political movement in principle find themselves in a ‘utopian dilemma’ when the protests turn violent. “I support the protests as long as they stay peaceful.” one of such sitting-on-the-fence-compatriot may say. I would like to point once again to the great Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917 (perhaps the July Days resembles the recent unrest the most), or shall I point out the ironic obvious — that the Communist Party of China (CPC) was hardly a legal entity for the first 20 years of its existence, and the militant ways in which it seized and reinforced power in mainland China, make them the least likely and qualified critic regarding the legality of the protest in Hong Kong. No one would believe that a government that runs a modern concentration camp is really concerned about law and order with no ulterior motives. Legality has always been a wishy-washy chalk line that is used extremely flexibly by those in power when facing political demands. From the Pharisees in Jesus’ time to today’s CPC, legality has been used as a mere commodity. To say that the protesters’ fighting back is bad because it is causing a lot of disruption and damage to properties, one might as well say that any other form of protests is doubleplusungood unless it is done peacefully, and except for the housing situation and tonnes of issues not addressed by the government because it has no duty to the people, Hong Kong is one of the doubleplusgood cities in the world, and any repression we think we are undergoing is simply the CPC being malquoted. Those who demand protests to be peaceful simply misses the point, and Hong Kong will only become another Airstrip One in the end.

One final consolation

Hong Kong’s current situation is a humanitarian crisis. It begs the support from other democratic countries, yet it is receiving none. In this era when capitalism is the global norm, it is ironic that the capitalistic principle of maximising one’s benefit is the only thing that is restraining democratic countries from speaking out against the systematic violence inflicted by a so-called socialist country on a former British territory that is on its knees begging for political reforms that perhaps would make housing a tiny bit more affordable, or would see its people electing their own chief executive for the first time.

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