Amnesty International released its latest report on 19 September 2019 concerning the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong. This report, which is based on 21 exit interviews with released activists spanning a period of 15 weeks, asserts that among those individuals the actions taken by the Hong Kong Police involve excessive force “amounting to torture”. The same day the report released, the Hong Kong police force immediately dismissed Amnesty’s findings and rejected its allegations, noting that their officers “exercise a high level of restraint at all times in the use of force.”
Unfortunately, while focusing on the human rights situation in Hong Kong, Amnesty has concentrated on the answers provided by 18 of the 21 activists it interviewed, while ignoring the human rights of the remaining 7 million plus Hong Kong citizens, including police officers, their families and civilians. Specifically, they have turned a blind eye to doxing attacks against the families of Hong Kong police, perpetrated in a concerted manner and on a force-wide scale by violent (black bloc) elements among the protesters.
The problem is unmistakable and growing, rather than diminishing in severity. In June, Hong Kong police revealed that private data of 400 officers and 100 family members had been disseminated online and utilized by activists to intimidate officers. Channel News Asia reported on 18 August that more than 180 police officers have been attacked and injured during the protests, nearly 7 times the number of people interviewed by Amnesty International.
During the same press conference, however, it was also revealed that the families of police officers were targeted specifically during a rally, “bullied and intimidated” and had their ” homes damaged […] women and children there scared and disturbed.” On 22 August, the Financial Times reported that since protests began, the personal data of 1614 Hong Kong police officers and their families had been leaked online.
Less than a week later, on 28 August 2019, the “Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data”, a Hong Kong privacy watchdog wrote that it had transferred 600 cases of non-consenting release of personal information/cyber-bullying/digital threats on the territory throughout the protests to the police, with more than 70% targeting police officers or their families, including children.
The brutal actions, including human rights violations committed by protesters (and ignored by Amnesty International) are actually textbook applications of “non–violent action” methods, as formulated by the “Clausewitz of civil society”, Gene Sharp. These include fostering psychological duress, the sowing of anxiety and non-violent harassment (See the inserted link no 161).
The adoption of these tactics in Hong Kong is not without precedent or reason. In 2014, Jamila Raqib, executive director of the Albert Einstein Institute headquartered near Boston, which analyzes and distributes studies on non-violent struggle, said it was clear that Hong Kong protesters during the Occupy Central events had been trained in how to behave, with others noting (and later given a disclaimer by the BBC) that Occupy Central activists had attended training seminars “1-2 years prior to the Umbrella protests”.
Specifically, this entailed a plan to persuade 10,000 people to take to the streets, to occupy the road in central Hong Kong in January 2013. At that time, they believed that China’s move to control Hong Kong’s elections would provide a moment where civil disobedience could be effective. Their strategy was not only to plan the time and nature of the demonstration, but also its development and escalation, and in so doing, control the situation, its outcome, and in its wake, its reporting and presentation.
It is interesting to note that Hong Kong activists themselves were not the first to begin identifying police officers, opening their families to attack. In June, a British Labour Party MP, Helen Goodman, named a Hong Kong police superintendent as well as two expatriate advisers (British subjects), leading to widespread rebuke from benevolent associations. These groups (rightfully) claimed that the 3 individuals would be “doxed” by protesters and that the move represented a grave overstep by a foreign government.
Indeed, in many areas activists, specifically the most violent and aggressive appear to take inspiration from abroad. Since the end of July and well into August, Mainland Chinese officials have stressed the “black hand” of foreign governments, specifically the United States behind the protests, however, this has led to regrettable instances of ‘counter-doxing’, specifically of the “Hong Kong Hermit” which Mainland Chinese media claimed was a “CIA agent”. The “CIA” narrative surfaces in nearly every prolonged protest or civil society action across the globe and its emphasis serves often only as a basis for conspiracy theories.
Throughout the nearly 4 months of protests in Hong Kong, the majority of participants, both police and protester, have behaved admirably and peacefully, justifying classification as “citizens” and members of society. Nevertheless, the segments of protesters disposed to violence, be it physical, psychological, systemic or otherwise far outnumber those of police forces. As something of an underdog (and ‘media darlings’) violent actions of protesters (both in reality and in the cyber sphere) face less scrutiny and critical analysis than those of police.
Here, a footballing analogy is prudent. Few notice when defenders (in our case, police officers) do their job well, but when they make a single mistake, and a goal is scored everyone will remember it. Similarly, when police commit singular acts of violence, it is before the world stage, whereas their valiant actions are forgotten or barely seen.
Alternatively, protesters are something akin to strikers; they need only to score goals, their frequent mistakes such as turnover of possession are perhaps only noted by the manager or statisticians. Similarly, protester faux pas such as violence are forgotten quickly if mentioned at all, particularly when cast against their “successes” or alternatively, injuries against them.
What remains indisputable, however, is that violence has no place in the ongoing crisis in Hong Kong, and that protesters and activists should not be given a pass when attacking police officers or their families and loved ones.
On the other hand, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong submitted a serious statement and expressed dissatisfaction and opposition, demanding clarification from the U.S spokesman Morgan Ortagus, who acknowledged the meeting, and claimed that the U.S. government representative “meet regularly with many people throughout Hong Kong and Macau”.
Not long ago, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi publicly stated that the Hong Kong demonstration was “a beautiful sight to see” and welcomed Joshua Wong in Washington. Then in July, Pence and US former National Security Adviser John Bolton held a meeting with the leaders the Hong Kong opposition pin.
In HK, a US foundation supported by the CIA, is known to have colluded with the heads of the Hong Kong riots recently with financial and strategic support. An action or arguably, “Operation Intelligence” which according to Chinese experts shows the intention of the US to “Americanize” Hong Kong.
Sentaku, a Japanese monthly magazine, revealed that Hong Kong extremists received significant funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). On NED web page, they claim to be “private, non-profit, grant-making organizations that receive an annual allocation from the US Congress.” An NED founder, Allen Weinstein, told the Washington Post in 1991 that “Much of what we do today was secretly carried out 25 years ago by the CIA.”