Hong Kong vigil over crackdown in China village

About 100 people held a candlelight vigil outside the central government's Liaison Office last night. It was also attended by representatives from traditional democratic groups.
About 100 people held a candlelight vigil outside the central government's Liaison Office last night. It was also attended by representatives from traditional democratic groups.ST PHOTO: JOYCE LIM

Group says villagers' land issues similar to city's, slams violent treatment of HK reporters at scene

Even as a growing group of Hong Kongers are seeking to distance themselves from China, some Hong Kong residents have demonstrated against the violent crackdown on protests in mainland China's Wukan village.

About 100 people held a candlelight vigil outside the central government's Liaison Office last night, as the issues faced by the villagers in Guangdong province were similar to those Hong Kongers faced, they said.

They also strongly condemned the violent treatment of Hong Kong journalists reporting on the Wukan incident last week.

A journalist with South China Morning Post (SCMP) and two from Mingpao Daily News were among five reporters detained last Wednesday and questioned over their reporting of the violent clashes between the villagers and police, where tear gas and rubber bullets were fired at protesters.

One of the journalists had told the SCMP reporter that he was punched in the stomach, while another said he was slapped twice in the face.

The physical abuse that Hong Kong reporters were subjected to is a threat to press freedom in Hong Kong, lawmaker Leung Kwok Hung told The Sunday Times.

The 60-year-old, who attended the vigil, said Wukan "deserves the attention of Hong Kongers" because there are many similarities in the land issues faced by its villagers and those in Hong Kong's New Territories.

In both cases, the local government is accused of collusion with triads and businesses, added Mr Leung, who is from the League of Social Democrats.

Civic Party leader Alan Leong, 58, whose party initiated the vigil, said Hong Kongers need to be concerned, especially since China has resumed sovereignty over the city.

Accounts clerk Pearl Lee, 45, attended the vigil as she was afraid the Chinese authorities would handle Hong Kong's affairs in the same high-handed manner.

"They used violence on students at Tiananmen, now they are using violence on Wukan villagers. Hong Kong will not be spared," said Ms Lee, referring to the Tiananmen incident in 1989 when hundreds of protesters were killed by troops.

Last Thursday, Democratic Party chairman Emily Lau, together with party members, had gathered outside the city's government headquarters to show solidarity with the Wukan villagers.

The Democratic Party also urged the Hong Kong government to ask the mainland authorities to stop all violent acts and to ensure the freedom and safety of Hong Kong reporters working on the mainland.

In a statement, the Democratic Party also demanded the release of the Wukan village chief who was jailed on graft and other charges.

The statement noted how the chief was elected in a democratic process after the village made global headlines in 2011 in its fight over unjust land seizures.

Last night's vigil was attended by representatives from traditional democratic groups, including the Labour Party and the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China.

Newly elected localist lawmakers like Mr Nathan Law and Mr Eddie Chu, often seen in the front line of democratic protests, were absent.

Mr Law is in Taiwan and Mr Chu could not be reached for comment.

Localist party Youngspiration spokesman Kenny Wong, 29, said he did not attend the vigil because happenings in Wukan do not concern Hong Kongers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on , with the headline ''. Print Edition | Subscribe