Sydney and Taiwan kick off global protests for Hong Kong

Supporters of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters march during a demonstration as part of the global "anti-totalitarianism" movement in Sydney on September 29, 2019. (File/AFP)
Updated 29 September 2019

Sydney and Taiwan kick off global protests for Hong Kong

  • Beijing stepped up its campaign to diplomatically isolate Taiwan after President Tsai Ing-wen’s 2016 election
  • Similar rallies are being held in more than 40 cities worldwide as part of a global day of action in support of Hong Kong protests

SYDNEY: Thousands rallied in Sydney and Taipei to support Hong Kong democracy protesters Sunday, kicking off a day of planned “anti-totalitarianism” demonstrations globally.

In one of the largest solidarity marches in Australia since Hong Kong’s latest pro-democracy movement began in June, black-clad participants took to the streets chanting “Add oil,” a protest slogan denoting encouragement.

Some Sydney protesters held signs that read “Save Hong Kong” and “Stop tyranny,” while others carried yellow umbrellas or handed out paper cranes in scenes that played out in other major cities across the country Sunday.

Pro-China supporters stayed away, avoiding a repeat of the tense scenes that flared last month when opposing rallies held on the same day led to confrontations between the two sides.

Bill Lam, 25, who attended demonstrations in Hong Kong before moving to Sydney for study two months ago, said protesters had become “very desperate” and simply wanted authorities to respect “their basic human rights.”

“I came here but I want to support them from Australia,” he told AFP. “I feel so sad every night because I watch the live video (from Hong Kong) on Facebook and some social media.”

Frankie Lo, 47, said he had lived in Australia for years, but continued to care deeply about the situation back home.

“We still believe in one country, two systems, but they just have to follow the Basic Law,” he said, referring to the legal code that underpins the financial hub’s semi-autonomous status. “It’s not about independence.”

He added that besieged Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam should set up an independent committee to investigate allegations of police brutality.

“It’s something that we don’t want to see,” 25-year-old Tony Chung said of the violence that has featured in many of the summer protests.

“It’s Hong Kong people fighting against Hong Kong people, which doesn’t make sense at all.” In Taipei some two thousand people, many dressed in black, gathered under torrential downpours outside parliament, the largest Hong Kong solidarity protest so far this summer on the island.

Protester Pan Hou-hsun, who said he was in his forties, portrayed Taiwan and Hong Kong’s fates as linked because both places fret about the growing assertiveness of authoritarian China.

“To protect a democratic and independent Taiwan, we are standing behind Hong Kong,” he told AFP. Taiwan has been a de facto sovereign nation since the end of a civil war in 1949, but China still views the island as its territory and has vowed to seize it — by force if necessary.

Beijing stepped up its campaign to diplomatically isolate Taiwan after President Tsai Ing-wen’s 2016 election because she hails from a party that refuses to recognize the idea that the island is part of “one China.”

Tsai is seeking re-election in January. Saturday’s rally in Taipei was largely peaceful although Hong Kong popstar Denise Ho, a staunch democracy advocate, had red paint thrown at her by an unidentified assailant as she spoke to local media.

Similar rallies are being held in more than 40 cities worldwide as part of a global day of action in support of Hong Kong protests.


On 16th birthday, California student opens fire at his high school, killing two

Updated 15 November 2019

On 16th birthday, California student opens fire at his high school, killing two

SANTA CLARITA, California: A Southern California high school student pulled a .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun from his backpack and fired on fellow classmates on Thursday morning, killing two and wounding three others.
He saved the last bullet for himself. It was his 16th birthday.
The teenaged gunman, whose name was not provided by police, survived the self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head but was in grave condition in hospital, law enforcement officials said.
Captain Kent Wegener of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told reporters the entire incident, captured on videotape, took 16 seconds as the young man stood in one spot and fired on one student after another.
“From right where he was standing, he doesn’t chase anybody, he fires from where he is until he shoots himself,” Wegener said.
The scene at Saugus High School was reminiscent of other mass shootings at US schools, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a former student with an assault gun killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.
Wegener confirmed the suspect posted a message on his Instagram account before the shooting that said: “Saugus have fun at school tomorrow.” The post was later taken down.
The two slain students were a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy. Two other girls, aged 14 and 15, were wounded, as was a 14-year old boy, Wegener said.

Students are evacuated from Saugus High School onto a school bus after a shooting at the school left two students dead and three wounded on Nove. 14, 2019 in Santa Clarita, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)


Motive unknown
Investigators said they did not yet know what led the student to open fire at the school 40 miles (65 km) north of Los Angeles.
Police said the accused shooter had acted alone. Investigators descended on his family home, blocking off the street. They found no further danger there.
A next-door neighbor, registered nurse Jared Axen, said the suspect had seemed introverted, quiet and sad, possibly despondent over the loss of his father from a heart attack in December 2017.
Axen, 33, said it was the boy who found his father deceased, not long after the older man had regained his sobriety and gotten his life “back on track” after years of struggling with alcohol abuse.
“I would say he (the boy) was hurting and couldn’t ask for help,” Axen said of the suspect, who was a track athlete at the school, involved in Boy Scouts and liked the outdoors, going on hunting trips with his father.
He was of mixed race, born to Japanese-born mother and white father, with an older sister who became a nurse and moved away.
“I would ask him how school was ... he would never bring up concerns of bullying or being a loaner there,” Axen said.
There was no immediate word on where the teen gunman obtained the weapon.
“How do we come out of tragedy? We need to say ‘No more!’ This is a tragic event. It happens too frequently,” said Captain Robert Lewis of Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s station, striking an emotional note in an otherwise somber news conference.


Latest school shooting
A 16-year-old Saugus High School junior named Pamela, who spoke to Reuters on condition that she not give her last name, said she was in her first-period choir class when some girls ran into the room and said there was a shooting going on.
“Our teacher immediately grabbed a fire extinguisher and got us into her office and locked the door,” Pamela said, adding that one of the girls had been shot in the shoulder.
Taylor Hardges reported seeing people running in the hallways shouting “Run!” She raced into a classroom, where a teacher barricaded the room.
“We’ve had drills. It doesn’t prepare you for the real thing,” she said after reuniting with her father at a designated spot in Santa Clarita’s Central Park.
Her father, Terrence Hardges, said he felt his heart race after Taylor texted him from inside the classroom with the message: “I love you. I’m pinned in a room. We’re locked in.”
The shooting at Saugus was the 85th incidence of gunfire at a school this year, according to Everytown, a gun control advocacy group. It seems sure to reignite a debate over gun control in the 2020 presidential election.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School, where two teenagers went on a rampage, fatally shooting 12 students and a teacher and wounding more than 20 others before killing themselves.