Moral Low Ground


Judge Gives ‘Occupy Hong Kong’ Protesters 2 Weeks to Vacate HSBC Bank Property

Occupy Hong Kong now faces possible eviction. (Photo: Leung Ching Yau Alex)

Long after Occupy Wall Street camps in the United States have been forced to disperse, Occupy protesters have been living in tents in one of communist China’s largest cities since last October.

And unlike in the United States, where Occupiers have often been evicted with the use of brutal police violence, Chinese authorities have shown uncharacteristic tolerance toward those who have defied one of the world’s most authoritarian governments and courageously taken a stand against economic inequality.

But now, nearly a year after the Occupy movement began, Chinese authorities have sent a strong message that they’ve had enough. The New York Times reports that a Hong Kong judge has given Occupy protesters camped in a space owned by London-based HSBC bank two weeks to disperse.

Around a dozen protesters and their tents occupy the public passageway owned by the bank. If they do not vacate by 9 p.m. on August 27, authorities will turn to a court bailiff to decide what, if any, action to take against them.

Chinese authorities, concerned about appearing insensitive during a time of staggering wealth inequality, have been reluctant to move against Occupiers. In contrast, authorities in the United States, where freedom of speech and assembly are constitutionally guaranteed rights, have often resorted to heavy-handed police violence to clear Occupy encampments.

In New York, protesters and public officials alike have been brutally beaten and attacked with chemical weapons during police actions.

In Oakland, California, protesters, including US war veterans, have been severely beaten, shot with less-than-lethal projectiles and gassed by police, resulting in hospitalizations and a loss of public confidence in law enforcement and elected officials. A federal judge slammed the Oakland police for their “overwhelming military-type response” to what was mostly a peaceful protest movement.

Studentspregnant women and the elderly have all been brutalized by American police during the course of the Occupy movement.

But in Hong Kong, Occupy authorities have demonstrated remarkable restraint, and protesters remarkable defiance, in the face of the eviction order.

“We’ve never asked for permission from the law, we’ve never asked for permission from the courts, we’ve never asked for permission from HSBC,” activist Nin Chan told the Associated Press. “From the very beginning, we’ve never recognized these authorities as legitimate.”

Mui Kai-ming, another Occupy protesters, said he would “absolutely” not leave.

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