Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

HK students becoming others' paw

By Han Dongping ( Updated: 2014-12-01 14:59

HK students becoming others' paw
Confrontations between Hong Kong's riot police forces and 'Occupy Central' protestors take place again at Mong Kok late on Nov 28, 2014. [Photo/] 

Hong Kong students are becoming a paw of the "Occupy Central" forces that want to stall China's progress without realizing it. But in the end, it will be the students who may have to pay a high price if anything goes wrong. The protesting students believe they are fighting for a "just" cause. And who in this world can say fighting for "democracy" is not a just cause?

But how many evils have been committed in this world in the name of "democracy"?

About 1 million innocent Iraqis have been killed as collateral damage of democracy. Libya has been destroyed, and hundreds and thousands of innocent and not-so-innocent Libyans have been sacrificed in the name of "democracy".

In the eyes of the dominant groups in the West, everything and everybody else is disposable for the sake of "democracy".

The question the students in Hong Kong and elsewhere need to ask is: Do these people really care about democracy if they are pushing for their kind of "democracy" at the expense of other people's lives? The students apparently do not know that the people who support them have ulterior motives, with an agenda very different from theirs. Some want to disrupt Hong Kong's progress to block the country's progress. The "Occupy Central" forces are providing the students money and more because the students' actions serve their own political objectives in Hong Kong.

Students in Hong Kong and elsewhere should not forget British Prime Minister David Cameron's reaction to protesters in his own country. Cameron said he would not be restrained by the concept of phony human rights and would use violence against the "thugs and criminals" who were demonstrating in London. This same prime minister has always supported demonstrations and protests in developing countries. But when his own country's people took to the streets in protest, he called them "thugs and criminals". What's more, instead of exercising restraint, as he always advises leaders of developing countries to do, he said he would not hesitate to use violence to deal with his own people.

United States government spokesperson, too, has expressed support for the protesting students in Hong Kong. And at the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia, US President Barack Obama reiterated America's support for the students.

But students in Hong Kong and elsewhere should not forget how US police treat demonstrators and protesters. They just need to switch on their TV sets to see what has been going on in Ferguson, Missouri, and realize how the US government treats its own protesters and demonstrators. A government that crushes protesters in its own country with brutal force sounds dubious when it talks about promoting democracy in other parts of the world.

The Hong Kong government and police have exercised exemplary restraint in dealing with the student demonstrators. To avoid escalation of tensions, they allowed the demonstrations and protests to continue. But they warned the protestors that their right to protest should not cause inconvenience to others or violate other people's rights. The Hong Kong government and police have shown the British and American administrations and police how to deal with demonstrations and protests.

At this point, I am thinking about the Nigerian author and human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and others who were hanged by the Nigerian government in 1995. Human rights organizations in the West and Western governments egged him and his friends on to confront the Nigerian government. But when the Nigerian government arrested him and his friends, their Western supporters could not save them from death.

The government of a country or region has the legitimate authority to enforce the law. And nobody is above the law. The Hong Kong students have to know that their supporters in the West can only cheer them from a safe distance to disrupt the country's progress but cannot save them from being punished for violating the law. The students should never become other people's paw just because some irresponsible and ill-intentioned spectators are out there to cheer them on.

The author is a professor of politics at Warren Wilson College, North Carolina, US, and guest professor at Hebei University, China.

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