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A dead bill and a broken city

UNREST OVER THE controversial extradition bill have entered the third month. Over a month ago, protesters set five demands before the Hong Kong SAR government. However, protesters lament that there has been “no response” to any of the five demands and so the fight must go on. The truth is that the government did respond, although not to the extent desired. Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, declared, “The bill is dead.” 
 
Could a dead bill ever be resurrected? It appears that a lot of people believe in the resurrection or they simply don’t want even the mortal remains of the unpopular bill to be put on the shelf, instead wanting a ‘total recall’ (courtesy of a Hollywood movie). Although that hasn’t happened, Carrie Lam did do something unexpected: she openly apologised to the people of Hong Kong. This was perhaps an early success for the pro-democracy movement and they commanded widespread support in society.  
 
Over a period of two months this international business hub has witnessed an unprecedented escalation of chaos and violence in various parts of the city, thanks to the tactics of the pro-government elements as well as city’s own police force. Ironically, the government named the protesters “rioters.” Over 700 protesters had been arrested as at mid-August, while police have only arrested or charged very few of the white-clad, rod-wielding mob who stormed into Yuen Long MTR station on July 21 and assaulted commuters, protesters and journalists.
 
The rift between protesters and police further widened as photos and videos of a young woman lying in a pool of blood after she was shot in eye with a bean-bag bullet went viral. Doctors suggested that the injury could leave her partially blind. People have lost their faith in the government and in its machinery—especially the police. Plainclothes officers infiltrated the protesters and were allegedly seen inciting mob violence. Police were also caught on camera using excessive force on the protesters. Many have raised the question: “Who was violent? The protesters or the police?”
 
One can only sympathise with the police, for they are Hongkongers too. This summer has been extraordinarily hectic for them, with no vacation. They have been given the task of suppressing demonstrations at any cost and are left with little choice than to follow the orders of their superiors.
 
Week after week, the protesters turn out onto the streets in large numbers. Figures that ran into millions in the early days of the protest are no longer repeated and that could be an indicator that the protesters are gradually losing ground. The SAR government and Beijing appear to be gradually churning out a tactful end game to stifle the protesters. Creating fear among the participants through the use of violent force by the police in order to drive the rest away is an old tactic.  
 
Police used various methods to stifle the voices of the protesters. Posters carrying messages threatening protesters and their families were spotted near campuses and homes. Even those sympathising with the protesters are targets of death threats from the neighbourhood. 
 
The bill is “dead” and might not be resurrected, but can this wounded society have a resurrection and healing? jose