Bare Necessities: Our 5+1 Demands
Oct 16 2019
We explore how much -and how little!- the HK mvmt's '5 Demands' have evolved since June. We try to get to the beating heart of the politics driving our HKers, & where our demands might lead us.
‘5 Demands, Not One Less!’ has bn HKer’s steadfast rallying cry thru the mvmt. It started as just 1, but increased repression & changing political reality meant list of conditions HKers believe necessary to safeguard rights & way of life has grown to 4, then 5, and now 6.
The phrase is referenced everywhere, and appears even more often than the more-loaded '...Revolution of our times!' It adorns our Lennon Walls. We slap it on hard hats. We slap it on Lam- that's what the open palm means. And even our goose memes nod to our 5 demands.
'5 Demands' ubiquity in our art gives you a clue to the widespread support for the platform. But what are these demands? And how should one frame them - and the HK mvmt - in the context of the wider political spectrum, given recent debates abt who HKers shld ally with, etc?
\1. ‘Complete withdrawal of ELAB’: This was the first & only demand at the start. As the art here from early Jun shows, HKers' main concern was the ELAB, which if passed wld hv effectively subjected HKers to mainland China's jurisdiction, a violation of '1 Country, 2 System'.
Lam announced intention to withdraw ELAB in early Sep. But by then the mvmt had moved on to encompass more grievances; the other demands will hv to be met. Our art here suggests one may be down, but the other 4 still hv enough fire in the belly to defeat a monstrous regime.
\2. ‘Drop “riot” definition’: Dds 2-4 appeared wk of 17 Jun, after HKPF's 1st violent salvo. >150 tg cans were fired at 5 "rioters", a vague label which wld've meant up to 10 yrs in prison.
There are no rioters, only those against tyranny.
The term must be retracted.
\3. 'Amnesty for all arrested protesters': From Jun to early Oct, >2300 HKers hv bn arrested, ranging from 12 to 80+ yrs old. It's not hard to be arrested now: Wear a mask, boom! Film police brutality, boom!...
This isn't justice.
They must be freed w/ charges dropped.
\4. “Independent commission to investigate police brutality": It's not just the indiscriminate arrests that have filled HKers w/ rage. HKPF have aimed guns at journalists & first aiders' heads, blinding ppl. In Aug, they stormed a metro stn & beat everyone bloody.
The violence was so bad, rumors swirled HKPF killed a HKer. Yet no one's bn held accountable, bcos HKPF no longer carry IDs that wld allow us to complain.
'Who watches the watchmen...?'
This isn't right.
We must have an independent investigation of police brutality.
\5. ‘Immediately implement genuine dual universal suffrage’: This was added Jul 1, after HKers staged rallies where mlns joined & were met w/ ... silence from the govt. It was clear Lam et al. did not care, bcos they don't have to. They do not answer to HKers.
The solution is to immediately implement universal suffrage, for both the Chief Executive, but also the Legislative Council - ~1/2 of seats right now are returned by corporates, interest grps, etc.
This isn't true representation.
We must hv genuine universal suffrage now.
\6. 'Disband HKPF’: The latest demand had bn a fringe idea in early Sep. But after police brutality intensified - HKPF pepper-sprayed a journo in the face, blinded Veby Mega Indah, a reporter, & shot a student pt blank in the chest - public anger boiled over.
Lingering unanswered allegations of sexual assaults & deaths at hands of HKPF only fuelled our ire. An independent commission will no longer be enough. Sth needs to chg to stop the cycle of violence & rebuild trust.
This isn't working.
We must disband the HKPF.
And so our 5 Demands are now 6. What shld be clear is that they grew out of specific local concerns, out of the necessities of our current political situation. One may try to map our asks to some left/right spectrum, but truth is, HKers' fight is more fundamental…
We are fighting for the liberty to hold the myriad of views that make up a political spectrum. Without suffrage, without our freedoms of speech & thought & assembly, there will be no political discussion.
There will just be the CCP. There will just be silence.
But it doesn't mean we shld not debate what HKers wish to build w/ the 5+1 Demands. What do we mean by 'universal' suffrage? Who gets the vote? Will we lower the voting age? How will LegCo seats be distributed? What are credible proposals for disbanding the HKPF?...
How do we address very valid concerns abt racism & inequality in the way we rebuild LegCo, the way we think abt policing going forward? How will we think abt ways to safeguard these new institutions from foreign influence if we win?...
What will our new world look like?
These are questions we hv to ask ourselves if we're serious about mapping out a visible path towards the freedom we seek. These are questions we hv to ask ourselves to give us sth to build towards, sth to hope for, sth to fight for. Together.
'5+1 Demands, Not One Less!'
##Update, Oct 28 2019
HKers have updated the 5 Demands (w/ new slogans for each!) after the ELAB withdrawal. The ones on arrestees and ‘riot’ characterisation remain the same, as does the universal suffrage demand.
The evolved ones are these. Disbanding HKPF seems to have properly solidified into one of the demands, replacing independent inquiry into police brutality. And the last, instead of withdrawing ELAB, it’s now about the use of ERO, which gives Lam pretty broad unchecked powers.