Letter to the Editor | Anti-mask law aims to help bring Hong Kong out of turmoil
October 20, 2019
For a couple of months, Hong Kong has been a disturbing warzone. There are reports of people running and crying and of gunshots everywhere. What is going on?
In fact, protests of an extradition bill lasted for over two months in Hong Kong since the bill was introduced by the local government. If the bill is passed, some criminals in Hong Kong would be sent to mainland China, which prompted concern about uncontrolled power of the central government.
Since the British left Hong Kong in 1997, the city has been a special district that believes in capitalism and free markets but is generally controlled by the central government in Beijing.
Totally different from communist China, Hong Kong is part of the free world and one of the most popular cities for tourists. However, a great number of residents in Hong Kong are worried that their beliefs and ways of life could be eroded by Beijing.
After the extradition bill went public in June, residents are more worried, even furious. They believe anyone in Hong Kong could be arrested and sent to the mainland if he or she is not welcomed by the central government. Even though such political extradition seems unlikely to happen, thousands of people went on strike and participated in protests that have lasted until now.
A few weeks ago, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Government, Carrie Lam, announced the bill was withdrawn and would never be brought out. But protests still went on, and some protesters seemed unwilling to leave the streets.
The police are fighting back. Hundreds of protesters have been arrested, and a young protester was even shot by a policeman as violent protests erupted across Hong Kong on the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1.
Protests are becoming violent riots as protesters destroy subway stations, stores and banks. They even commit robbery in the middle of the day. Violence and unrest is allowing protesters to wear masks.
Masks should never be the cover of crimes. According to China Daily, Allan Zeman, one of Hong Kong’s most powerful economic leaders, believes, “Getting an anti-mask law off the ground will be a way to help Hong Kong put an end to the turmoil that has rattled the city for nearly four months.”
In France, protesters could be sentenced to up to one year in prison for wearing masks. There are also anti-mask laws in the U.S. and Britain. We should acknowledge that protests should be open and direct so people can speak up for themselves and their voices can be respected.
On Oct. 5, the anti-mask law became effective in Hong Kong, and hopefully, there will be fewer riots and more dialogues.
Daniel is a former Daily Illini opinions columnist.