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Former world leaders slam HK rioters

By LUO YU in Shenzhen, Guangdong | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-11-20 08:46

From left: Danilo Turk, former president of Slovenia; George Vassiliou, former president of Cyprus; Viktor Yushchenko, former president of Ukraine; and Boris Tadic, former president of Serbia.

It is crystal clear that the protests in Hong Kong are not peaceful, according to Boris Tadic, former president of Serbia.

Tadic, one of the former world leaders who attended a dialogue between the InterAction Council and the China Foundation for International& Strategic Studies on Sunday in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, condemned the violence in Hong Kong.

The InterAction Council, established in 1983, is an independent international organization that mobilizes the experience and influence of statesmen who have held the highest office in their own countries.

Danilo Turk, former president of Slovenia, said the level of violence in Hong Kong was simply unacceptable. "Obviously, unrest is really causing a great deal of concern. The riots in Hong Kong have to stop," he said.

"Indiscriminately attacking people is unacceptable, and it has to be addressed," said George Vassiliou, former president of Cyprus, who added it is time for the rioters to realize they won't solve any problems by beating up people or throwing gasoline bombs.

Tadic called the violence in Hong Kong "terrible" and "dangerous" to human rights. "Their demonstrations are not in favor of human rights. It's a kind of demonstration against human rights," he said.

Former president of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko, who was at the heart of the country's Orange Revolution more than a decade ago, recalled the Ukrainian experience and said that people would be willing to engage in negotiation and dialogue in peaceful and meaningful protests.

Tadic said that no one who is normal could support such violent and aggressive demonstrations as those in Hong Kong. But in selectively exaggerating what they want to report and neglecting what they do not want to report, some Western media have been manipulating public attention on the Hong Kong unrest in disregard of facts.

Turk said that the information from Hong Kong has not been complete. "For example, the fact that the trigger for this whole process was that gruesome murder of a pregnant young woman, but it was not reported in the media, at least until very late."

The unrest that has raged on for more than five months in Hong Kong was sparked by the extradition case involving Chan Tong-kai, 20, a Hong Kong resident and a suspect in a murder in Taiwan.

Hong Kong police officers are often portrayed in a negative light in Western media reports, even when they have exercised restraint and tolerance. Both Tadic and Vassiliou praised the Hong Kong police for behaving very calmly despite the violence they are facing and for their reluctance to use force.

"Their reaction is pretty reserved, which is very good. But what is also very important is to protect the police officers. They have to be better equipped for such demonstrations," Tadic added.

When asked about the future of Hong Kong protests, Vassiliou said that his advice to the protesters was to try to solve the problems within Hong Kong, realizing that the future lies with them.

"You cannot have university campuses being used as factories for gasoline bombs. You cannot have gasoline bombs thrown at innocent people," he said.

Tadic appealed to everyone in Hong Kong to be calm and patient in order to prevent violence from exploding. "To be calm and be patient is the only way. To negotiate is the only way," he said.

"Violence has to stop. There is no solution before ending the violence," Turk said.

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