Statement from Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) – exerpt from leaflet. More commentary and analysis to follow.
The new law to ban face masks is a fundamental attack on the democratic right to protest and a serious escalation of the repressive power of the authoritarian state in Hong Hong. It is of course also tactical by Carrie Lam’s government, to begin imposing emergency powers (under British colonial era laws) in a step-by-step fashion hoping to “boil the frog slowly”. It’s clear that more repressive laws are being prepared and this issue is therefore a test case.
Most protesters wear masks in self defense against the hi-tech Big Brother state machine that possesses the world’s most advanced facial recognition technology. Masks should not be necessary, if society wasn’t ruled by an evil dictatorship. But this is Hong Kong 2019, where workers and trade unionists are sacked for joining strikes or criticising the government. Therefore the right to defend ourselves against such a state and system is beyond question.
Why doesn’t the government ban tear gas if it wants people to stop wearing masks? Why doesn’t it rein in the police? Because the CCP dictatorship demands the police use ever more dangerous violence as a power demonstration of China’s rule. It demands the police should never be unmasked, never investigated, or held to account for their crimes. Police brutality, increasing in a never ending spiral, is the dictatorship’s revenge for it’s humiliation and incapacity to overpower the mass protests after four months.
The government justifies it’s ban by pointing to “democratic” countries like France where masks are also banned – well shame on those governments too! In Hong Kong it is clear that this policy is designed to further strengthen the features of a crazed, out-of-control, gun-shooting police state, and further weaken the right to protest. However, this measure will not succeed.
The mass of people should defy this authoritarian law, just as we need to defy the police ban on demonstrations. Defending our democratic rights requires mass collective action, not individual acts which dissipate the resistance. The people’s answer should be “everybody masks”!
The aim of Lam’s mask ban is clearly to try to split the movement by isolating the militant youth. A collective decision to begin mass defiance is the way to answer this. This also shows the need for greater organisation of the mass protests, through democratic action committees. The spontaneous de-centralised approach (growing from distrust of the weak and vacillating pan-democratic leaders) much in favour when protests began four months ago has reached an impasse.
Organisation, and a change of orientation towards organising in the workplaces and schools, building strike committees and preparing a real general strike to paralyse the economy, linked to an appeal to the mainland Chinese masses for united struggle against the dictatorship, this is the key to success in the struggle.