As ongoing public protests in Hong Kong lead to ever more violent clashes between demonstrators and police forces, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has voiced concern, urging all parties to reach a resolution through dialogue for the sake of a more peaceful society.
In a televised interview from his official residence in Dharamsala, in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, the Tibetan spiritual leader emphasized the urgent need for non-violent expressions of opposition to authoritianism and totalitarianism.
“When [former Chinese head of state] Deng Xiaoping created one country, two systems, it was realistic; wonderful. But now, in recent weeks, there have been very [many] disturbances, so I feel some worries,” His Holiness said in an interview with Taiwan’s Hakka Television. (YouTube)
“It’s better, I think if everywhere there is peace—it’s the best way . . . very important,” the Dalai Lama said. “Any problem we can resolve through talks, not through some negative [actions] under the influence of anger—[there is] no use. There have been too many disturbances [caused by the disputes]. But I cannot do anything, only pray [for them].” (YouTube)
During the same interview, the octogenarian Nobel Peace Prize laureate also offered praise for democracy and religious freedom in Taiwan, urging the Taiwanese not to become demoralized, but to continue to use non-violent, peaceful means to overcome totalitarianism.
The Hong Kong demonstrations began in March this year, escalating into a full-fledged protest movement by June as large segments of the public turned out to express opposition to the Hong Kong government’s attempt to fast-track the introduction of an extradition bill. The bill allow the local authorities to detain suspected criminals for extradition to territories that Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements with, including Taiwan and mainland China.
Critics of the bill, which was first proposed in February this year, assert that the proposed legislation could undermine judicial independence in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, as well as expose Hongkongers to the risk of unfair trials and inhumane treatment in China, and could become a weapon for targeting dissidents, activists, and journalists critical of the central government in Beijing.
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in a series of mass demonstrations against the bill, but Hong Kong’s government remained initially intractable to their demands. As the ongoing protests turned into increasingly violent clashes between hardline protestors and police and security forces, with riot police deploying pepper spray, tear gas, foam grenades, rubber bullets, and water cannons against demonstrators, the initial opposition to the extradition bill has morphed into five key demands:
1. The complete withdrawal of the extradition bill from the legislative process.
2. The retraction of the government’s characterization of the protests as “riots.”
3. The release of all arrested protestors and an amnesty on all charges against them.
4. An independent investigation of police conduct, including allegations of brutality and excessive force, mistreatment of detainees, violence toward journalists and non-protesting members of the public, and a lack of accountability.
5. The resignation of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and the implementation of universal suffrage in the Hong Kong SAR.
After weeks of protests, which have included the destruction of public property and the disruption of airport services, Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended the extradition bill on 15 June and then declared it “dead” on 9 July, but refused to be drawn into explicitly offering a full withdrawal until 4 September. Lam has so far refused to entertain any of the other four demands.
Although definitive data is scarce, in excess of 1,200 people are reported to have been arrested since June, and more than 2,100 people have sustained injuries. Reports of deaths related to the violence have not been confirmed.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama Prays for Hong Kong interviewed by Hakka TV【 Hakka TV 20190814】 (YouTube)
Dalai Lama expresses concerns over violent protests in Hong Kong (Focus Taiwan)
Peaceful talks needed in Hong Kong: Dalai Lama (Taipei Times)
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet