Pro-China groups tear down some of Hong Kong's 'Lennon Walls'
September 21, 2019 02:10 PM NPT
A "Lennon Wall" is seen in Tai Po, Hong Kong, China September 21, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song
HONG KONG, Sept 21: Pro-China groups pulled down some of Hong Kong’s “Lennon Walls” of anti-government protest messages on Saturday, raising the possibility of clashes with democracy supporters and another weekend of trouble in the Chinese-ruled city.
Dozens of Beijing supporters tore down some of the large mosaics of colourful Post-it notes calling for democracy and denouncing perceived Chinese meddling in the former British colony.
The installations have blossomed across the Asian financial centre, at bus stops and shopping centres, under footbridges and along pedestrian walkways.
They have also occasionally become hot spots of violence in more than three months of unrest.
Hong Kong’s protests picked up in June over legislation, now withdrawn, that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial. Demands have since broadened into calls for universal suffrage.
A pro-Beijing city legislator, Junius Ho, who has been a vocal critic of the protests, had urged his supporters to clean up approximately 100 Lennon Walls around the city on Saturday.
But in a message posted late on Friday on his Facebook page, Ho said “for the sake of safety” the Lennon Walls would not be cleared up, only the streets.
The walls are named after the John Lennon Wall in communist-controlled Prague in the 1980s that was covered with Beatles lyrics and messages of political grievance.
Bizarrely, Lennon’s 1980 “Double Fantasy” album includes a track called “Cleanup Time”.
The anti-government protesters are angry about what they see as creeping interference by Beijing in Hong Kong, which returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that ensures freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland.
China says it is committed to the “one country, two systems” arrangement and denies meddling. It has accused foreign governments including the United States and Britain, of inciting the unrest.
The demonstrations have taken on their own rhythm over the months and tend to peak at weekends, often with anti-government activists, many masked and in black, throwing petrol bombs at police, trashing metro stations, blocking airport roads and lighting street fires.
At times, they have been confronted by supporters of Beijing wielding sticks.
More pro-democracy protests are planned this weekend including a sit-in on Saturday at a mall near the Yuen Long suburban subway station, marking two months since activists were attacked by a mob there.
The transit operator, MTR Corp (0066.HK), closed train stations near potential protest sites, including Yuen Long and Tuen Mun, for safety reasons.
Protesters had said on Friday that while they did not want violence, they would defend themselves if they were attacked.