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Why It Was Important For Sunday's Protests To Remain Peaceful


All right, I want to bring in another voice now. It is Wong Yik-Mo. He is the vice convener of the Civil Human Rights Front. This is the pro-democracy group that organized the march in Hong Kong yesterday. Thanks so much for coming on the program.

WONG YIK-MO: Thank you very much for having me.

GREENE: So what was it like out there yesterday?

WONG: Well, yesterday, at one point, 1.7 million people took to the streets, regardless of the heavy rain, and it turned out to be 100% peaceful. Nobody was hurt.

GREENE: There was a lot of violence at the airport last week, and it looked like the movement might be losing some support. How important was it for you to keep yesterday peaceful?

WONG: Right. I think, first of all, in the airport, I wouldn't say there was a lot of violence. But nevertheless, the action yesterday proved to the whole world that Hong Kong was actually peaceful, and whenever there's no police officers provoking protesters and pretending to be protesters, we can be very peaceful.

The public, in fact, they do not blame those frontline protesters who might push the frontlines of the police. The general public, they want to protect the youngsters (ph); maybe you call them radical ones because we know the police, they are the violent ones. Whenever it is violent, it's 95%, 99% by the police.

GREENE: I know this all began over trying to get rid of this extradition bill, the idea that accused criminals could be extradited to China. Clearly, this has grown bigger. What do you want out of all this?

WONG: Right. We have five demands, and the first one is the complete withdrawal of the bill. And it's very important to have an independent commission of inquiry to investigate police brutality because, otherwise, the police, they will feel safe, and there's no punishment, and they would simply keep on using violence. And, you know, we want universal suffrage. Free election is actually the most important demand because with a government that's not elected by the people, they can do whatever they want.

GREENE: Are you ready to negotiate?

WONG: Of course, we are always ready. In fact, this morning the legislators, Democratic legislators, they had a press conference (ph) to urge Carrie Lam to respond.

GREENE: The leader of the Hong Kong government, Carrie Lam, right.

WONG: Yes, the chief executive. I mean, we are always open for discussion and negotiation. But the fact is that she's been hiding behind the police, as she uses the police as a political tool to crack down on the Hong Kong protesters. And they even imported triad members from Putian (ph), from China, as triad members to attack Hong Kong citizens, simply to scare us and hoping that we will stop protesting.

But all these efforts are in vain because Hongkongers, we need to protect our home. No matter what happens, we're still here to protect our home. So we urge Carrie Lam to really respond to our demands.

GREENE: Wong Yik-Mo is the vice convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, the organization that organized the protest in Hong Kong yesterday. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

WONG: Thank you, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.
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