Press Release from Bersih 2.0
Dated: 18th November 2019
HONG KONG PROTEST : CALL FOR DE-ESCALATION AND PEACE
The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) is alarmed that the protest in Hong Kong has escalated to a critical and dangerous level this past week, bordering on civil war between the police and some of the protesters. The siege by the police on The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) that is happening right at this moment threatens to end in a bloodbath for the hundreds of students barricaded inside. Such a tragedy would leave a permanent and painful scar on the collective memories of the people of Hong Kong, and indeed the world, and must be averted at all cost.
Bersih 2.0 appeals for immediate cessation of hostile actions on both sides of the conflict and for the police to withdraw from attempting to enter the campus of PolyU and take control of the campus through the use of deadly force, including using live ammunitions. All efforts must be made by both sides to find ways to end the protest that has now escalated to tragic levels with lives lost or seriously wounded, over 3,000 arrested and city life and economy severely disrupted.
Bersih 2.0 calls on the HK authority and responsible media to stop labelling protesters as radicals, rioters and criminals but to acknowledge that they are citizens with legitimate discontent and as young people who have a stake in the future of Hong Kong. As the government, they are vested with power, resources and a responsibility to end the over six months of impasse. The ball is truly in their court to end the crisis.
Bersih 2.0 urges people of goodwill in HK to reach out to both sides of the conflict, the leadership of government and the protesters to start negotiation for a peaceful and lasting settlement. While this is a “leaderless” protest, there are most certainly people of influence among the protesters. It is time to talk and start listening to each other’s concerns, expectations, fears and even limitations. Trust must be restored. It is time to start discussing the remaining four of the five demands of the protesters and come to some form of settlement. But talks cannot begin until hostility ceased. The HK government could signal their good faith and desire to negotiate by withdrawing the police from PolyU immediately.
Bersih 2.0 suggests that all those who were arrested throughout the past months be given due process of the law, according to international standards. This would go a long way to demonstrate goodwill on the part of the authority. We would also call on the authority to allow third parties from within and outside the region to act as intermediaries.
Bersih 2.0 reaffirms the rights of the citizens of HK to hold peaceful protests as guaranteed under HK’s Basic Law Article 27 and call on the HK government to also reaffirm and defend this right. As a movement that advocates for democracy and freedom in Malaysia, we are in solidarity with all who aspire for freedom, justice and respect for the dignity of every human life, regardless of which nation they may reside in.
Statement issued by:
The Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0
Image credit: The Sydney Morning Herald