China seems to be in no mood for allowing even people outside the country to have an opinion of their own. A Hong Kong protester recently reported that he was attacked and chased by some masked pro-Beijing men in Australia.
“They were nearby my house and waiting for me… They knew my address, they knew where I was going to be… I think they don’t want to hurt me, they just want to make me scared. It was like intimidation, a message that ‘we know where you are’,” the victim said to The Guardian. He arrived in the country a few months back and has been an active participant in some of the protests.
Prior to arriving in Australia, he was arrested twice this year by the Hong Kong police for taking part in the protests. Even his parent’s homes were searched. Not feeling safe, the protester decided to move to Australia, only to be later shocked that even here the pro-Beijing forces were after him. But since he is living in a democratic country, he can now report such attacks to the police and be assured that strict action will be taken.
Elaine Pearson, Australia director for Human Rights Watch, criticized the incident and stated that physical attacks against activists in Australia were a “step up” in terms of Beijing’s interference in the country. The foreign interference laws are supposed to prevent such incidents from occurring. However, Pearson now questions whether such laws are sufficient.
In July, the University of Queensland was the scene of conflict between pro-Hong Kong and pro-China students. The Chinese side blasted the Chinese national anthem and tore down posters of the other camp, shoving people who said anything in support of Hong Kong. One student who helped organize the pro-Hong Kong demonstrations, 22-year-old Phoebe Fan, admitted that she was worried about her safety given that one of her friends was doxxed, meaning that their private information was exposed online.
“Our goal was for us to show support for the Hong Kong protesters, and to show we’re against the extradition bill to China… We didn’t say anything about independence or anything like that… I’m feeling very disturbed and mostly scared because I’m not sure what they’re going to do to me,” she said to the BBC.
Social worker strike
Back in Hong Kong, many social workers are on strike, extending their support to the protesters and calling the current condition of the city a humanitarian crisis. They also condemned how the police have acted during the six months of protests.
“The social welfare sector works for the people and we treasure the value of human beings… We really want to show the government and the world that we are very concerned about the escalating police violence and the tightening of basic personal freedoms,” Patrick Lam, one of the organizers of the strike, said to South China Morning Post.
Hong Kong police have made about 6,000 arrests linked to the protests. About 40 percent of them involve students. The police department has tried to justify the use of violence, arguing that they had only used it in defense against the protesters’ violent acts. Hong Kong has shelled out an additional US$128.2 million to the police force as overtime pay since the protests broke out.