Pro-democracy protests have been going on in Hong Kong since September. The protest movement, called Occupy Central, is demanding free elections.
According to Reuters, Alex Chow, Eason Chung, and Nathan Law from the Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the groups leading the protests, have announced their intent to ask China’s leaders, directly, to allow free elections for the post of chief executive in 2017.
A popular vote is already being allowed by Beijing, but with some significant small print. The government is first vetting all candidates for the election through a nominating committee that has been described as being loyal to the Chinese Communist Party. The members of Occupy Central decided to go to Beijing to fight for their cause, meanwhile, their protests are keeping large portions of Hong Kong shut down.
Despite their good intentions, Beijing may not let them enter. In fact, many people believe that the protesters won’t even be able to leave Hong Kong.
Both Beijing and the Hong Kong government have labeled the protests in Hong Kong illegal, and are planning to clear protest sites either Monday or Tuesday.
Benny Tai, Chan Kin-Man, and Chu Yiu-ming, leaders within the Occupy Central movement, have agreed to turn themselves in to authorities by next Friday. According to the Shanghaiist, the leaders believe that turning themselves in will be a show of good faith that they are willing to accept any legal ramifications if it will help further their cause. Other leaders within the group, such as Lester Shum, have a very different perspective, indicating that they would “rather be arrested than surrender.”
Due to the illegal nature of the protests, it’s very possible that those traveling to deal with Beijing will not be able to make it there. It seems unlikely, since reports show that the Chinese government may have been working behind the scenes to thwart the Hong Kong movement.
According to Time, a cybersecurity forensics firm called FireEye suggested that the Chinese government might be behind two different attacks on pro-democracy websites in Hong Kong. The discovery was made through shared digital certificates.
FireEye analyst Ned Moran stated, “We understand that there has been a long series of campaigns over the past 10 to 15 years coming from China [to steal intellectual property]. We can tie that intrusion activity through technology data points to the [pro-democracy news site attack], which is attempting to suppress speech in Hong Kong. Who would benefit from both of those activities?”
[Image courtesy of AsiaNews]