【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.
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