July 1

UPDATE:

SCMP states that the protest will:

end at Chater Road in Central to give a taste of what Occupy Central would be like at the same time next year when at least 10,000 people are expected to block roads there.

This year’s march, organised by the Civil Human Rights Front, is ending at Central instead of the usual government headquarters to serve as a warning to Beijing to deliver on “genuine” universal suffrage, the organisers said.

I’m not sure how changing the endpoint accomplishes this, but we’ll see.

Original post:

RTHK:

Organisers of the annual July 1 march say they expect a huge turnout this year. They will be demanding universal suffrage for the next Chief Executive election and the resignation of C Y Leung.
For the first time, the march from Victoria Park will end with an assembly at Chater Road in Central, instead of finishing outside the Central Government Offices.

My first thought here is “why change the route?”  Is it to prevent media from seeing the sight of hundreds of thousands of people right outside the door of the government headquarters?  It is to make sure that the masses of people don’t pass by the PLA garrison on their way to Central and Hong Kong MTR stations on their way home after the march?

july1

(Google Maps)

I then have to ask myself “does it matter?”  We show up, we walk a few kilometers, we go home, but what changes?  Back in 2003, when the huge turnout was still a shocking affair, we succeeded in getting the anti-sedition law shelved, but the government is used to such marches now.  It doesn’t faze them at all.

One thing that might make the July 1 marches more effective might be a focus on a single issue, like in 2003 when the anti-sedition law (Article 23) was by far the main issue.  For example, this year’s issue might be the election of the CE by universal suffrage in 2017, which the central government has promised, but the local government has failed to do anything to implement.  Instead, current July 1 marches see a bunch of unrelated rag-tag teams, some for better housing, some for gay rights, some for higher minimum wage, etc.  These are all issues in Hong Kong, but it doesn’t give a sense of unity that can shock and awe the local and central governments.

Another issue: why does no one seem to know exactly how many people show up?  How can the figures vary so wildly?  The answer is simple: the organizers have an interest in seeing as many people show up as possible and likely inflate their figures, while the police have an interest in minimizing the reported number (the Commissioner of Police, Andy Tsang, is widely depicted as a Beijing lackey).  Then there are a third set of figures, from the Hong Kong University’s Public Opinion Programme (HKUPOP).  Are these figures accurate?  No one knows.  We can probably say with certainty though that last year saw between 63 and 400 thousand marchers.  But is it 95 thousand, as HKUPOP’s reported?  200 thousand? Do spectators who line the streets and footbridges (but do not march) count?  How many of them are there?

RTHK (continued):

The Civil Human Rights Front said it’s still working out arrangements for the event with the police.

Currently, protesters are required to obtain a “letter of no objection” from the police.  Does this interfere with Hong Kongers’ right “of procession and of demonstration” as enshrined in the Basic Law, if Commissioner Tsang can refuse to approve any protest he doesn’t like?  I would like to think that Tsang has an obligation to ensure that such protests run smoothly, not to try to nip them in the bud.

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