March For Universal Suffrage: Quick Report
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Awaiting a Democratic Hong Kong
The march today was somber, determined, and serious. It did not have the joyous atmosphere of some of the protests past, I kept feeling that everyone there had the same kind of feeling which is that we are in this for the long haul.
When we had to wait about two hours before we could leave the grounds of Victoria Park, one of the organizers thanked us profusely for our patience. I felt it was ironic because two hours is nothing in terms of what we really have to wait for a democratic Hong Kong. We've waited 16 years to see if China would reevaluate its assessment of June 4th 1989.
One thing that struck me was the number of children there, nearly everywhere we looked, there were parents with their young children, some in prams, some in diapers, most of them walked themselves or were carried. It really is a testament to the people's belief when they bring their two or three, six, seven years old and carry the kid for five straight hours.
It reminds of me of a video that was shown in the Tienanmen Massacre Memorial in 1999, where there was a little girl being interviewed, they asked the question,
"How many years have you come?"
She replied, "Nine."
"So how old are you?"
It touches me every time I think about it, and what's so surprising is that this year, if she was at the protest she would be 16. I only hope she was.
Today's protest is truly marred by the fact our government is lying about the numbers, they are officially setting the number at 63,000 when it's so clearly not the case. It's simply not, in fact it works against previous police estimates.
Previously if only around 2/3 of Victoria Park is filled, the police would say there would be 45,000 there, and today by 3:30pm which is when they gave out the first estimate which was 40,000 it was completely packed right to the very end of the football field. I can attest to that because I was there. There was no way that a fully packed Victoria Park football field with the protesters standing instead of sitting could possibly be lower than any previous times when the field was only 2/3 filled.
Each year the numbers between the organizers and the police keeps growing bigger, this one is 74% different. The democratic Movement needs legitimacy, it does not serve us well to inflate numbers because if it's found out, a lot of questions will be raised. However, it's well known the Chinese government will happily fix numbers to serve their purpose. I can't believe this is happening in Hong Kong.
This is really bad, once people started to hear that was the estimate, the crowd grew quiet, I felt something I had never felt before: tension. True real life tension within the protesters with a touch of anger. Our government cannot keep up with this, they will just make people more and more dissatisfied. I saw incidents where I felt the crowd were beginning to bate the police confronting them about opening the roads spontaneously all through the march, which I had never seen with such frequency before.
At the very end when I arrived at about 8pm (one of the last groups of people,) long hair said something really good, "Donald Tsang, Can you see? Central Government Can you see?" Referencing that really there were far more many of us than it's being reported by police.
Donald Tsang at the press conference later on in the evening refused to acknowledge the numbers by saying that 250,000 was not real, no one knew the real numbers. Funny that considering every other march until today, the police seems rather confident in what they say. Tsang said that we should not focus on the numbers, he sees each protester as an individual with their passion and beliefs. Right... they say they will get an "independent" statistician to report on how many people there were at the protest. Is this "independent" like a code word for "Rigged by the government?" What's wrong with the police estimate?? Oh, because when you make stories up, it's good to have a back up.
Honestly honestly, I think there probably was about 200, 000 people there (more on why later.)
With such depressing, and frightening events going on, I want to leave everyone (and myself) a more pleasent image.
While I was walking up to the Secretariat, we had to stop and wait before we could go forward, in front of me there was a man carrying his little Daughter who maybe one years old. Her mother was holding her hand, talking to her, gently repeating a sentence in a sing song voice trying to urge her to say it back. As the little girl was looking at her mom, her mom kept saying, "I want the vote. I want the vote."