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熱血、暴力,還有聰明的示威者 | Passion, Violence & the Smart Protester
約翰百德 (John BATTEN)
at 4:44pm on 19th August 2019


圖片說明

1.–5. 2019年8月5日,示威者在金鐘逃避催淚彈 。照片由作者提供

Caption:

1.-5. Protesters evading tear-gas on Harcourt Road, Admiralty, 5 August 2019. Photo: John Batten



(Please scroll down for English version)


「憤怒群眾滿街頭
(那麼多人、那麼多人)
訴說他們早已受夠

政治的殺傷力

播下進步種籽
(那麼多人、那麼多人)
革命從沒勝過
只是另一種型式的槍械……」

- The Moody Blues樂隊1972年作品《迷失於失落世界》(Lost in a Lost World


反對修訂《逃犯條例》的示威者,被其他香港人、或與我年紀相近的人、或母親、老師或其他批評他們的人稱為「孩子」。我鞭策自己要更正這種說法,因為它既欠準確也帶輕蔑。他們不是孩子,而是滿腔熱血的示威者;他們的示威更一點都不兒戲。

過去幾個月以來,我們經常看到這個模式,部份示威者會在和平遊行後留下,又或衝往警署或其他示威地點,他們都會與警察對峙,然後被後者由視線水平發射橡膠子彈或催淚彈等驅散。進攻的爆炸聲通常會在稍息後再次響起,加上是警方各種射彈的巨響。示威者那邊所拿著的卻是弱不禁風的自製盾牌,一般以木材、兒童學泳浮板或在街上拆下的路牌,急就章地加上把手而成。示威者以盾牌和打開的雨傘排成方陣。各種子彈「砰」、「砰」、「砰」地響起,擊中這道在警察與勇武示威者之間薄弱的防線,場面令人噁心。

示威者也有以自己的射彈反擊,例如是投擲石頭、木棍、水樽,也會很快追趕催淚彈彈筒,然後以紅色交通圓錐筒把其蓋上弄熄。(諷刺的是,這些街上撿來的圓錐筒通常都是由警察「提供」。)又或者,如果警察就在附近,示威者會迅速拾起尚在冒煙的彈筒擲回警察防線;有時候,拿著網球拍發射可以令射程更遠。嘈吵的聲音震耳欲聾。示威者會敲響任何可以拿到手中的東西:鋼鐵路牌和路旁鐵欄的回音特別強勁。在這些對峙的聲音之間,還有人會大聲唸唸有詞地喊出「香港加油!」或「釋放香港!」等口號,也有辱罵警方的說話。

類似事情也在警方防線那邊出現:他們以警棍敲打較小的圓形手持盾牌,長盾牌則直接在地上敲打發出聲響。在較大型的對峙中,警察通常與示威者年齡相約––只是「孩子」。處理規模較小事件的警察,通常較年長、較嚴厲。空氣中瀰漫著暴力,由兩方佈防的主角、颼颼作聲的射彈,還有男性化,通常恐武有力的衝擊不斷升溫。這是威力很大的組合,特別是當警察手上持有可以傷人的武器時。

2019年7月28日,警察從西營盤中聯辦把示威者驅至上環港鐵站與港澳碼頭附近緊迫的一處*。催淚彈與橡膠子彈不斷在狹窄的內街重覆發射,周圍盡是民居,居民被困於交鋒之間令,做法惹人爭議。在同一星期內,上環街頭已是第二次成為戰場。後來到了晚上11時,警察從三路包圍示威者,然後向聚集在中遠大廈旁空地的群眾施放催淚彈。示威者很快便選擇向皇后大道西或威靈頓街這兩條路線撤離。那夜告終時,警方總共拘捕了44名示威者 –– 這個數字可以高出很多;這是很多示威者早已知道的事情。

上環那夜的示威後,令示威者在其後行動中採取了不同的策略。他們把示威行動最初的兩句口號「加油」和「be water」(像水一樣)付諸實行。又或者好像我某夜聽到的「快點、快點,像水一樣,加油!」。在所有接下來的示威中,我們看到示威者迅速從路障撤離,由一個地點移往另一地點,在全香港各處漂流,避免自己被捕。然而,勇武示威者的暴力仍有出現。

暴力示威是死胡同,這是唯一讓政府可肆無忌憚地繼續無視示威者五大訴求的動作;暴力示威讓警察可以放任地繼續採取暴力與過份激進的警務行動,並以含糊其辭的嚴重罪行檢控被扣留的示威者。  

香港示威者都是聰明人,但最聰明的示威者會採取絕不暴力的公民抗命方法。只有這樣做,政府和警察才不會有更多道德彈藥,可用來把自己的行動和不溝通的做法合理化。然後, 市民大眾––別忘了2百萬 + 1––便可以向政府施壓和勸服內地主事人,找出結束這場政治危機的方案。

* 見 www.facebook.com/battenjohn/videos/10156603992322371/


原文刊於《明報周刊》,2019年8月16日




Passion, Violence & the Smart Protester

by John Batten


“Angry people in the street
(so many people, so many people)
Are telling them they''ve had their fill
Of politics that wound and kill.

Grow the seeds of evolution
(so many people, so many people).
Revolution never won
It''s just another form of gun….”

-The Moody Blues, Lost in a Lost World, 1972


The anti-extradition protesters are referred to by fellow Hong Kongers, or by anyone of my age, or by mothers, or by teachers, and by those that criticize them, as “the kids”. I kick to correct myself, as that description is not accurate and is condescending. They are passionate protesters and their protests is no child’s play.

In a pattern seen over the last months, protesters remaining after the end of peaceful marches or rush to police stations or other sites of protest will be confronted by police and disbursed, usually by rubber bullets and tear gas, often fired at eye-level. The blast of attack will often resound a moment later with the thud of police projectiles against the flimsy shields made from wood, children’s surfboards, or street-signs pulled off the streets and re-provisioned with hastily made handles. The protesters stand in a phalanx of shields and open umbrellas. The “thud”, “thud”, “thud” of bullets hitting this thin physical barricade between the police and hardcore protesters is sickening.

The protesters will return fire with their own projectiles: stones, sticks, water bottles – and quickly chase down a tear-gas canister, extinguishing it by placing a red plastic traffic cone over it. (The cones found on the street, ironically, are often ‘supplied’ by the police). Or, if the police are close, canisters will be quickly picked up, and still emitting gas, be thrown back towards the police; sometimes a tennis racquet will give extra propulsion. The noise is deafening. Protesters will bang on anything at hand, steel street signs and roadside steel barriers give particularly strong sound resonance. Loud-hailers and chants of “Hong Kong, add oil!” and “Liberate Hong Kong!” amidst abuse towards the police are the sounds of these confrontations.

On the police lines, similar is happening: batons are banged against their smaller round-shaped hand-shields and the long shields are banged against the ground. At the larger-scale confrontations, the police are often a similar age to the protesters – mere ‘kids’. For smaller incidents, the police are often older, tougher. There is violence in the air, fuelled by the two opposing lines of protagonists, whizzing projectiles and masculine, often brute macho aggression. It is a potent mix, especially when the police hold weapons that can and do cause injury.

On 28 July 2019, the police drove protesters back from the Liaison Office in Sai Ying Pun to a tight area around Sheung Wan MTR station and the Macau Ferry Terminal*. Tear-gas and rubber bullets were repeatedly fired in narrow streets surrounded by residential flats, controversially trapping some residents in the crossfire. For the second time in a week, the streets of Sheung Wan were a battlefield. Eventually, by 11pm, the police had surrounded protesters on three sides, and then fired tear gas towards the large crowd congregated in the open area next to Cosco Tower. The protesters then quickly dispersed along one of two escape routes, Queen’s Road West or up Wellington Street. At the end of the night, 44 protesters had been arrested – this number could have been much higher; and many protesters knew it.

That night’s Sheung Wan protest changed the tactics employed by protesters at subsequent actions. They literally put in practise the two slogans heard from the earliest days of the protests: “add oil” and “be water”. Or, as I heard one night: “Quick, quick, be water, add oil!” All future protests see protesters retreating quickly from barricades, moving quickly from one site to another, moving around Hong Kong, to avoid being caught and arrested. However, the violence by hardcore protesters is still happening.

Violence is a dead-end, as it is the one action that allows the government off the hook to continue ignoring protesters’ five demands and give the police a freehand to continue their own, often violent, overly aggressive policing and apply dubious and serious charges to prosecute some detained protesters.  

Hong Kong protesters are smart, but the smartest protester uses tactics of civil disobedience that is strictly non-violent. If adopted, the government and police will have no more moral ammunition to justify their own actions and non-communication. Then, the public - remember the 2million + 1 – can pressure government and persuade their mainland overseers to explore solutions to end this political crisis.  

*See: www.facebook.com/battenjohn/videos/10156603992322371/


This opinion piece was originally published in Ming Pao Weekly on 16 August 2019. Translated into Chinese from the English by Aulina Chan.



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