onsdag 8. juli 2020

Hongkongers face a Kafkaesque reality as censors outlaw the words of protest

Writing about the protest movement in Hong Kong, I began to notice the absences everywhere I went. A moving patchwork of white, black and grey squares decorated walls and pavements, as more and more protest slogans were erased from the public gaze. Now, with Beijing’s enactment of national security legislation in Hong Kong, that void has suddenly gaped wider, swallowing words, ideas, open discussion, and even people from public view.

The legislation bans secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The first sight of it for Hongkongers was the moment that it came into effect on Tuesday at 11pm, ahead of the annual 1 July protest march, which itself had been declared illegal.

In one fell swoop, the new law pushed through many of the changes most feared by Hongkongers, by giving mainland legal bodies jurisdiction over some cases inside the territory, allowing the mainland security services to establish offices in the territory, permitting rendition to China and implementing national security education in local schools.