A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists
News in all languages
Last 40 posts (Homepage)
archives of old posts
The last 100 posts, according
The First Few Lines of The Last 10 posts in:
First few lines of all posts of last 24 hours |
of past 30 days |
of 2002 |
of 2003 |
of 2004 |
of 2005 |
of 2006 |
of 2007 |
of 2008 |
of 2009 |
of 2010 |
of 2011 |
of 2012 |
of 2013 |
of 2014 |
of 2015 |
of 2016 |
of 2017 |
of 2018 |
Syndication Of A-Infos - including
RDF - How to Syndicate A-Infos
Subscribe to the a-infos newsgroups
(en) (A)N(A)RKISt(A)N: Three Months of Insurrection -- An Anarchist Collective in Hong Kong Appraises the Achievements and Limits of the Revolt
Wed, 25 Sep 2019 09:13:21 +0300
Adventure Analysis Current Events ---- In the following timeline and interview, an
anarchist collective in Hong Kong presents a complete overview of the months-long
uprising, reviewing its achievements, identifying its limits, celebrating the inspiring
moments of mutual aid and defiance, and critiquing the ways that it has yet to pass beyond
a framework based in the appeal to authority and the outrage of the citizen. This is a
follow-up to the interview we published with the same group in June. ---- The struggle in
Hong Kong has been polarizing on an international level. Some conspiracy theorists are
determined to read any form of protest against the Chinese government merely as the
machinations of the US state department, as if it were impossible for protesters to set
their own agenda apart from state oversight. Others cheerlead for the movement without
concern about the nationalist and neoliberal myths that still hold sway within it.
The events in Hong Kong show how a movement can actively reject the legitimacy of one
government and its laws and police while still retaining a naïve faith in other
governments, other laws, other police. As long as this faith remains in some form, the
cycle is bound to repeat. Yet the past months of insurrection in Hong Kong can help us to
imagine what a worldwide struggle against all forms of capitalism, nationalism, and the
state might look like-and help us identify the obstacles that still remain to the
emergence of such a struggle.
Graffiti on the wall of the Bank of China headquarters, central Hong Kong. From a set of
photos by kjbb, ttbb, hybb of tclc.
Timeline of Events
You can find a more detailed timeline here. If you are already familiar with the events of
the past three months, skip directly to the interview below.
In spring 2019, the government of Hong Kong introduced a bill allowing for people to be
extradited from Hong Kong to other countries, including mainland China.
A massive peaceful demonstration against the extradition bill took place on June 9,
attended by millions of people. During the following week, some people on the online forum
LIHKG proposed that the movement utilize economic protest tactics-for example, the
comprehensive withdrawal of cash from savings accounts and general strikes. This did not
occur on a visible scale until much later.
On June 12, when a meeting was scheduled in the legislative council about the extradition
bill, protesters and police clashed around the government headquarters and the CITIC
Tower. The meeting was adjourned. Police fired over 150 tear gas canisters and rubber
bullets at protesters, injuring many people; they arrested five people, charging them with
Although the government announced on June 15 that the extradition bill would be suspended,
a protester fell to his death later that day. In the will that he left, he called for the
"complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, the retraction of the riot charge, the
unconditional release of injured students; the resignation of Carrie Lam." From that point
on, most of these were counted among the demands of the struggle. Two million people
participated in street protests the following day, on June 16.
Late June to July 1
On June 21, protesters carried out the first experiments in "guerrilla" action, moving
from the government headquarters to the police headquarters, the Revenue Tower, and the
Immigration Tower in the adjacent district, blocking entrances and temporarily closing the
respective departments. Some went back to the Revenue Tower the next day, June 22, to
apologize to users for the inconvenience.
A crowd-funded global advertising campaign calling for G20 leaders to act on the Hong Kong
crisis on June 26 generated no discernible response. Two more protesters committed suicide
at the end of the month. Desperation intensified, leading many to propose that the
struggle was facing an "endgame" situation with the approach of July 1.
That day, July 1, protesters broke into the Legislative Council (LegCo) building. Pacifist
demonstrators privately voiced concerns about this action, but ultimately chose not to
condemn those who engaged in it. Four protesters who entered the council chambers refused
to leave when the riot police arrived, and a dozen protesters went back in to "rescue"
them. From that point on, the resolutions "not to split" into factions (???) and "to come
(arrive at the demonstration) and go (escape from the riot police) together" defined the
collective ethos of the struggle.
Graffiti reading "Revolution will make way for an even more beautiful form of love." From
a set of photos by kjbb, ttbb, hybb of tclc.
Early July: The Conflict Spreads
During the Umbrella Movement of 2014, demonstrators had invented the Lennon Wall, an
impromptu and unauthorized public bulletin board, as a way for "conscientious citizens" to
"peacefully petition the government for redress" in a widely visible way. During June
2019, this model had transcended its strictly pacifist origins to take on the functions of
disseminating information and coordinating strategy. On June 30, the police destroyed the
Lennon Wall that protesters had set up at the government headquarters. In response, Lennon
Walls began to appear in every major district, staffed and guarded around the clock.
Although no one was arrested on July 1, many people feared that there would be subsequent
police reprisals. Some fled to other countries. Necessity compelled everyone in the
struggle to memorize, by rote, what they should say-and not say-when captured by the
police. The phrase "I have the right to remain silent" became a popular meme, and the
repetition of this mantra began to be used as a way to upvote posts on the LIHKG message
On July 7, the first rally occurred outside the main protest areas on Hong Kong Island,
with slogans and leaflets directed at the Mainland tourists frequenting the area. Protests
spread to a variety of other districts over the following weeks, notably occurring in
Shatin on July 14. People from the neighborhood showed support by throwing swimming boards
out of their windows to protesters, to be used as shields, and yelling at the police who
entered their housing estates. Police charged into a shopping mall for the first time,
leaving the floor of the Shatin New Town Mall bloody. The train to Shatin was suspended on
police orders, while self-organized carpool teams formed to facilitate protesters' escapes.
On July 17, after a few severe clashes, thousands of senior citizens marched to show their
support for young protesters, declaring that they were not conservative knaves like so
many of their generation, like the apathetic and apolitical ones young people call "old
A march to the Liaison Office of China-the official PR outlet of the Chinese Communist
Party in Hong Kong-saw the national emblem of China smeared with a thick coat of ink. For
the first time, people chanted the slogan "Restore Hong Kong to Glory, Revolution of Our
Times" en masse. Police fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and sponge grenades
without prior notice.
Meanwhile, at Yuen Long station, white-shirted triads
assaulted protesters and civilians on the train. Some believe that pro-Beijing legislator
Junius Ho was behind this attack. The assaults took place with the assistance of the
police, who sat idly by. Few of the perpetrators were arrested and none were charged. This
incident aroused deep popular rage against the police.
Graffiti reading "In the beginning, there was no such thing as the police." From a set of
photos by kjbb, ttbb, hybb of tclc.
Late July to Early August: Escalation
For the first time in popular memory, the police refused to issue a permit for the march
that was to take place in Yuen Long on July 27, a week after the triad attack. Thousands
took defiantly to the street regardless. Marching without permission has since become the
norm. A misunderstanding occurred between the protesters on the "agreed" departure time,
resulting in long discussions on LIHKG and calls for better communication between the
frontlines and the rows of partisans behind them.
On July 28, 49 partisans were arrested; most were charged with rioting. From that day
until early August, the protests became more spontaneous and ephemeral, with protesters
traveling to different stations via the Hong Kong metro, MTR (Mass Transit Railway),
chiefly targeting police stations. For the first time, people began hurling Molotovs and
bricks at police stations, as well as using slingshots. More and more people from the
neighborhood came out to support the struggle, yelling at the police and driving them back
into their stations. Police repeatedly deployed tear gas in residential areas and around
homes for the elderly.
People blocked the Cross-Harbor Tunnel on August 3. On August 5, a squad of male officers
carried away a female protester in Tin Shui Wai, deliberately lifting her skirt and
exposing her. At the same time, reports began to circulate about sexual assault in police
On August 5, thousands participated in a "general strike" in different districts. People
blocked the doors of train cars on the MTR early that morning, stopping almost every line
of the MTR. (This had been "rehearsed" on July 30, when one station was shut down early in
the morning, followed by short and periodic blockages at various important interchange
stations on Hong Kong island in the afternoon.) In many districts, the clashes around
police stations lasted all day. That night, pro-government gangs dressed in blue or white
shirts attacked protesters with iron poles and knives.
Graffiti reading "General strike, August 5." From a set of photos by kjbb, ttbb, hybb of tclc.
Mid-August: An Eye for an Eye
In response to the police arresting a young man for owning 10 laser pointers, describing
them as "dangerous weapons," people created their own harbor-front light show with laser
pointers outside the Hong Kong Space Museum on August 7. That same day, the first press
conference took place on behalf of the struggle, organized by a group of protesters as a
counterpart to the daily police press conferences.
Flash-mob blockades appeared in multiple districts the weekend of August 10. On August 11,
protesters from Sham Shui Po moved to Tsim Sha Tsui, where the police ruptured the right
eye of a female first-aider using beanbag rounds. "An eye for an eye" became a viral meme,
and the "Eye for Hong Kong Campaign" started by Kim Ui-Seong, a well-known South Korean
actor, spread around the world later in August.
A meme about the woman who lost her eye in the demonstrations. The hashtags read "Blasted
out a girl's eye," "Hong Kong awakening," "It's only a beanbag round," and "Being a good
person brings peace to the world." The first refers to the HKPF blinding her; the second
is a general slogan of the movement; the third is a quote from the chief of HKPF press
conference on the incident; and the fourth is a quote from the chief executive, Carrie
Lam, at the beginning of the movement, trying to justify the bill: "If you're a good
person, you have nothing to worry about."
On the same day, police fired tear gas inside an enclosed space at Kwai Fong station and
shot at protesters from close range, pushing them down an already crowded escalator at Tai
Koo station. Undercover cops dressed as protesters made arrests without prior notice. This
sowed distrust among protesters.
The next day, August 12, thousands gathered at the airport to condemn police brutality,
causing hundreds of flights to be cancelled. Rumors that riot squads were about to arrive
spread all afternoon; many left early, before 6 pm. Afterwards, feeling deceived, angry
protesters returned to the airport on August 13 and actively blocked passengers from
boarding. The atmosphere became tenser later in the evening when protesters identified two
men disguised as protesters-one a mainland security officer, the other a journalist from
Global Times who had close ties with the mainland security department. Both were tied up
and beaten by protesters. The incident was widely reported in the mainland, stirring
strong opposition to the movement. Disputes raged afterward among protesters regarding how
to treat infiltrators, leading to a public show of contrition on August 14. Despite the
disagreements, a sense of "unity" persisted, a unity that protesters swore would survive a
nuclear explosion (?????).
Defaced MTR ticket machines. From a set of photos by kjbb, ttbb, hybb of tclc.
The End of August
Millions of peaceful protesters attended a march on August 18 despite heavy rain. On
August 23, the "Hong Kong Way" action took place across the city. Aviation staff and
Cathay Pacific union leaders who assisted the airport blockades or showed sympathy to the
movement on social media were fired under pressure from Beijing. Multiple reports
circulated about detainees being badly beaten and sexually assaulted, even raped. A
#ProtestToo gathering against sexual violence took place on August 28.
On August 24, the MTR closed down several stations and stopped train service at the
related districts immediately before a demonstration in Kwun Tong. From that day on,
protesters began to refer to the MTR as the "Party Train" (??); it became a target of
vandalism. At the Kwun Tong protest, protesters presented what have become known as "the
five demands": full withdrawal of the bill, revocation of "riot" charges, unconditional
release of all arrestees, establishment of an independent inquiry into the crimes of the
police, and universal suffrage. Some also cut down the "smart lampposts" installed in the
district, RFID-equipped streetlights that are set to be upgraded with facial recognition
technology. They sawed the posts down, disassembled the circuitry, and identified where
the component pieces were manufactured.
On August 31, despite the arrests of high-profile activists and councilors, thousands
still took to the street. Water cannons had been tested for the first time on August 25;
now they were used at full strength to douse the crowd with blue pepper liquid. Protesters
set fire to roadblocks around the police headquarters; they also identified and surrounded
an undercover policeman.
Later, in Prince Edward station, police indiscriminately beat and pepper-sprayed
protesters and commuters in a train cabin. Seven people were seriously injured. At least
three people are still unaccounted for at the time of writing; many believe that police
murdered them. There has been no response to popular demands for the MTR to release the
CCTV footage. After this, hatred against the police and the MTR reached new heights, and
people circulated various methods to evade train fares.
Police using water cannons to douse protesters with blue pepper liquid.
On September 1, thousands gathered at the bus station and on the main road towards the
airport, the airport building itself being off-limits since the high court passed a
restraining order on protesters following the airport blockades. This action effectively
paralyzed traffic towards the airport throughout the afternoon. Universities and secondary
school students went on strike on September 2, with many facing assaults from police and
supporters of the government in front of their schools. Students and alumni formed
multi-school human chains in various districts throughout the week.
Finally, on September 4, the chief executive announced the withdrawal process of the
extradition bill-a process that will begin after the end of Parliamentary Recess in
October. Yet the movement continues to insist that the government must grant all five
demands. As of this writing, vandalism in MTR stations continues, along with inquests
regarding the whereabouts of the "disappeared" and demands for the release of the CCTV
footage from August 31.
Stencil graffiti on a wall in Hong Kong island: "Four demands unanswered." From a set of
photos by kjbb, ttbb, hybb of tclc.
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
By, For, and About Anarchists
Send news reports to A-infos-en mailing list
A-Infos Information Center