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Editorial : Storming of Legco building must be condemned

【明報專訊】HUNDREDS of thousands of citizens joined the July 1 march in scenes of immensity, peace and order. This was in great contrast to the tumult caused by a handful of extreme protesters who smashed into the Legislative Council building. Violence is a plague that proliferates quickly if society fails to condemn it. Peace, rationality and non‑violence is one of the core values of Hong Kong society. The violent storming of the Legco complex is an act that must be strongly reprimanded. Hearing several cases involving political violence in recent years, the court has also repeatedly emphasised that "violence is violence". It is something that should never be glorified with any pretexts. When a handful of people continue to escalate their violence and even a pan‑democratic lawmaker who tries to discourage them from using violence is knocked over and injured, society must stand up to make a clean break with violence rather than gloss over the problem.

In just four weeks, hundreds of thousands of people have thrice taken to the streets to oppose the amendment of the fugitive law. Their peaceful and orderly manner shows that the majority of Hong Kong people are peaceful, rational and non‑violent. The march is also proof that Hong Kong is still a liberal and open society. However, the simultaneous violent storming of the Legco building also underlines the fact that a handful of people in society have become obsessed with violence. From about 1:30pm onwards yesterday (July 1), a group of violent protesters smashed the glass facade and glass doors of the Legco building with iron poles and a metal cart. Several pan‑democratic lawmakers came to persuade them from violence, reminding them that the storming of the legislature entails the charge of rioting. Some protesters also separated themselves from the extreme protesters on the spot and declared their opposition to the storming. But all this fell on deaf ears. A lawmaker was pushed to the ground and injured by the jostling protesters. The police retreated bit by bit. At last the protesters broke into the facility, carrying out acts of sabotage and spray‑painting graffiti everywhere inside.

The government's attempt to push ahead with the amendment of the fugitive law has unleashed a "perfect storm". After the conflict at Admiralty on June 12, protesters and their supporters accused the police of abusive use of force while the police and the pro‑police camp said some protesters charged the police cordon line and tried to invade the Legco building violently. The issue continued to simmer and worsen, finally leading to the situation today. In order to restore calm to society, the government should officially withdraw the amendment proposal and address people's concern. At the same time, an independent investigation commission should be established as soon as possible to uncover the truth concerning June 12, so as to avoid political operations by those with ulterior motives to capitalise on the issue as well as stop people from taking this as an excuse for violence.

After the police were criticised by all sides for shooting tear gas, beanbag rounds and rubber bullets at the protesters on June 12, they have obviously become more hesitant in their actions. Since then, the radical protesters have continued to escalate their actions, including besieging the police headquarters twice and storming the legislature. According to the police, yesterday morning some protesters even threw objects allegedly containing caustic liquid at the officers. Thirteen police officers were injured and sent to the hospital. If society does not condemn such actions strongly, the violence will only spread non‑stop. No protesters who support peace, rationality and non‑violence should connive at the violent storming seen yesterday. Otherwise, the protest will only be hijacked and distorted by the small group of people.

明報社評2019.07.02:暴力就是暴力 譴責衝擊立會

數以十萬計市民參與七一遊行,場面浩大和平有序,與小撮激進示威者暴力衝擊立法會的混亂情况,形成鮮明對比。暴力是一種瘟疫,當社會不去譴責暴力,它就會迅速滋長。和平理性非暴力是香港社會核心價值之一,暴力衝擊立法會行為,必須予以最嚴厲譴責。近年多宗涉及政治暴力的案件,法庭亦再三強調「暴力就是暴力」,不能找藉口美化。當小撮人的暴力行為持續升級、泛民議員好言相勸亦被推撞受傷,社會必須站出來與暴力劃清界線,不能採取和稀泥態度。

短短4周之內,數以十萬計港人三度走上街頭,參與反修例遊行,井然有序場面,反映絕大多數港人都是和平理性非暴力,亦印證香港仍是一個自由開放社會,可是同時間發生在立法會的暴力衝擊,卻突顯社會有小撮人執迷於暴力。昨午1時半起,一群暴力示威者以鐵通和鐵籠車等工具,撞擊立法會玻璃幕牆和玻璃門,多名民主派立法會議員到場勸阻,提醒衝擊立法會涉及暴動罪,亦有示威者即場「割席」反對衝擊,然而暴力分子未有理會,混亂中有議員被示威者拉扯推倒受傷。警方節節後退,最終示威者闖入立法會大樓四處破壞塗鴉。

政府強推修例,引發一場「完美風暴」, 「6.12」金鐘一役,示威者及其支持者指控警方濫用武力,警方和撐警人士則指部分示威者衝擊警方防線,企圖以暴力攻入立法會,事態不斷發酵惡化,演變成今天的局面。為了讓社會平靜下來,政府應該正式撤回修例,回應市民訴求,同時盡快成立獨立調查委員會,全面還原「6.12」真相,避免別有用心的人繼續利用相關議題進行政治操作,又或有人以之為暴力的藉口。

「6.12」一役,警方向示威者發射催淚彈、布袋彈、橡膠子彈等,成為眾矢之的,行動明顯多了很多顧忌,此後激進示威者的行動持續升級,先後兩度包圍警總,又向立法會發動暴力衝擊,根據警方所述,昨早還有示威者投擲懷疑含有腐蝕液體的水彈,導致13名警員受傷送院。倘若社會不予嚴厲譴責,暴力只會不斷蔓延。所有支持和平理性非暴力的示威者,不應縱容昨日的暴力衝擊,以免示威活動被小撮人劫持變質。

■Glossary

tumult : a confused situation involving large numbers of people

simmer : to develop slowly for a period of time

ulterior : intentionally kept in the background or concealed

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