Despite the cold and the scheduling in the middle of a weekday, around a hundred people gathered in Auckland University’s quad on 11am, August 6th to attend an information session concerning the protests in Hong Kong against the Chinese extradition bill. Journalists from Radio NZ and One News took recordings while Amnesty International members and Free Tibet protesters raised signs and banners of solidarity. Police and campus security also looked on, as the campus assault on a pro Hong Kong student by pro-state assailants was fresh on everyone’s minds.
Several videos explaining the history of the bill, the strikes and protests against it, and the police brutality and mob violence by pro-state gangs played on a screen. Beneath the screen, five students sat, facing the crowd, wearing gas masks and safety goggles similar to the ones seen on the videos. Included in the video line-up was a recording of Jacinda Ardern’s milquetoast response to a question about freedom of expression in Hong Kong. “Ultimately, for extradition for other countries, that’s a matter for them [other countries]”.
We in the ISO stand in solidarity with the rebellion in Hong Kong. It is a rebellion against oppression and, as Marx wrote, “whenever one form of freedom is rejected, freedom in general is rejected.” But we recognise too that the movement is drawing in mixed backers. David Seymour from ACT, for instance, spoke at this event.
The protest was interrupted by a man in the back holding up a sign in Chinese, saying “Hong Kong independence mob” according to Newshub. Thankfully there was no disruption that stopped the event proceeding.
The next day, it was reported on Newshub that an Auckland University Lennon wall in support of Hong Kong protesters had been vandalised. Such actions have a disturbing resemblance to anti-union violence, in which hitmen have been hired by companies to intimidate, assault and even murder workers for unionising and striking. But supporters are staying strong, and another solidarity event in Auckland will take place tonight.