UN head: Resolve Hong Kong protests peacefully

Ayee Macaraig
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urges stakeholders in Hong Kong 'to resolve differences in a manner that’s peaceful, and safeguards democratic principles'

DEFYING RAIN. Pro-democracy protestors hold up their mobile phones after heavy rain in Hong Kong on September 30, 2014. Photo by Anthony Wallace/AFP

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations called for a peaceful resolution to protests in Hong Kong on the eve of a deadline for the city government to meet protesters’ demands for democratic reforms.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon through his spokesman warned against the use of violence in resolving one of the biggest political challenges for China since the deadly 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Ban’s spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said the UN chief was “very much aware” of the protests in Hong Kong, which escalated over the weekend when police fired tear gas and pepper spray on activists.

“He understands it is a domestic matter but urges all stakeholders to resolve differences in a manner that’s peaceful, and safeguards democratic principles,” Dujarric said in a press briefing at the UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday, September 30.

PBritain turned over Hong Kong back to China in 1997 under an agreement that guaranteed residents civil liberties like freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly – freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China. Hong Kong residents branded the decision to have a pro-Beijing committee screen candidates as a “fake democracy.”

The Occupy Central civil disobedience movement set an October 1 deadline for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to meet the group’s demands, and for him to resign. The group planned to announce more acts of civil disobedience on Wednesday.

China called the protests “illegal” and supported Leung, who demanded an end to the demonstrations which he said went “out of control.”

Protesters are expecting a large turnout in the coming days. Wednesday is a holiday to mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China while Thursday, October 2, is another holiday set for ancestor worship.

The protests have paralyzed downtown Hong Kong with some schools closed, bus routes cancelled and subway stops closed.

British official summons Chinese envoy

Ban’s statement comes after other international leaders expressed concern over the protests.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told Sky News TV, “When we reached the agreement with China there were details of that agreement about the importance of giving the Hong Kong people a democratic future.”

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also said he will summon China’s Ambassador to the UK to express “dismay and alarm” over Beijing’s refusal to grant the protesters’ demands.

 “The Chinese authorities in Beijing seem determined to refuse to give to the people of Hong Kong what they are perfectly entitled to expect, which is free, fair, open elections based on universal suffrage, as guaranteed by the joint declaration signed by the Chinese and British governments,” Clegg said.

The United States expressed support for the cause of Hong Kong’s protesters. White House Press Secretary John Earnest said the US “consistently made its position known to Beijing.”

“We believe that the basic legitimacy of the Chief Executive in Hong Kong will be greatly enhanced if the Basic Law’s ultimate aim of selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage is fulfilled.  We also believe that the legitimacy of the Chief Executive will be enhanced if the election provides the people of Hong Kong a genuine choice of candidates that are representative of the people’s and the voters’ will,” he said at a press briefing on Monday.

Earnest added, “We believe that an open society with the highest possible degree of autonomy and governed by the rule of law is essential for Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity.  Indeed, this is what has made Hong Kong such a successful and truly global city to this point.”

The Philippines, which clashed with China over maritime disputes in the South China Sea, said it is not taking sides in this issue.

Instead, Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Charles Jose said that the Consulate is calling on Filipinos to avoid venues of the protests to ensure the safety of migrant workers. There are 185,000 Filipinos in neighboring Hong Kong. 

Still, some Filipinos living and working in Hong Kong planned to join the rallies, saying they and their children have a stake in the city’s future. – Rappler.com 

Rappler multimedia reporter Ayee Macaraig is a 2014 fellow of the Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists. She is in New York to cover the UN General Assembly, foreign policy, diplomacy, and world events. 

 

 

 

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