“We can celebrate later”: Hong Kongers pen Christmas cards to protesters

Hong Kong has been embroiled in more than six months of anti-government protests which show no sign of abating. (File/AFP)
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Updated 17 December 2019

“We can celebrate later”: Hong Kongers pen Christmas cards to protesters

  • Volunteers in black masks and baseball caps collected Christmas cards for the injured protesters
  • Police have arrested 6,060 people since the unrest began, ages ranging from 11 to 84

HONG KONG: Hong Kong residents have been gathering across the city on weekends and in lunch breaks to write Christmas cards to injured protesters and those in detention as anti-government demonstrations grind on through the holiday season.
“I don’t even want to celebrate because so many people are seriously injured,” said office worker Felix Wong, 35, choking up in tears as she spoke.
“We didn’t forget about them. We’re not partying ... ‘We can celebrate later, not now’,” she said when asked what she had written in her cards.
Wong was one of a dozen office workers and residents who dropped by a central shopping area on Monday to drop off their Christmas cards.
Volunteers in black masks and baseball caps collected them in boxes as tourists walked by, passing shop windows decorated with gingerbread houses, Christmas presents and tinsel.
Hong Kong has been embroiled in more than six months of anti-government protests which show no sign of abating. Police have arrested 6,060 people since the unrest began, with 977 charged with various offenses including unlawful assembly, common assault and criminal damage, as of Dec. 12.
The ages of those arrested range from 11 to 84, according to police. Police do not say how many of them are in detention.
On the weekend, a line of people waited at the entrance of the train station in the Mong Kok district to drop off their cards at a booth manned by volunteers and equipped with screens showing videos of clashes with police.
Bonnie Lock, a 52-year old housewife, dropped off her card with a crowd of her neighbors.
“As Christmas and Chinese New Year approach, I want to show some support, to let them know that we, the peaceful protesters ... miss them very much,” Lock said.
“We hope they can feel some warmth and won’t feel that lonely.”
The protesters are angry about what they see as an encroachment by China on wide ranging autonomy Hong Kong was guaranteed under a “one country, two systems” framework which governs the former British colony.
China has rejected the complaints.
Protests are scheduled to continue across the city through the rest of the week and into Christmas.


Ukraine to press for plane crash black boxes as Iran minister visits

Updated 20 January 2020

Ukraine to press for plane crash black boxes as Iran minister visits

  • Ukraine’s foreign minister said returning the black boxes would show that Iran wanted an unbiased investigation of the crash
  • The plane disaster has heightened international pressure on Iran

KIEV: Ukraine will press Iran to hand over the black boxes from the crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane at a meeting with a visiting Iranian delegation on Monday, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told reporters.
Ukraine would convey the message to visiting Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami, that returning the black boxes would show that Iran wanted an unbiased investigation of the crash, Prystaiko said.
“His main task is to apologize and acknowledge what happened. We hope that we can go a little further than just political discussions and discuss practical problems. Among them in particular is the return of the black boxes,” Prystaiko said.
Iran had said on Sunday it was trying to analyze the black boxes from the airliner its military shot down this month, denying an earlier report it would hand them to Ukraine. All 176 aboard the flight died.
“At first they stated that they were handing them over, then the same person stated that they were not handing them over. This created some misunderstanding in Ukraine and we were starting to be asked: are they being handed over or not?“
Many of those killed had were Iranians with dual citizenship, but Iran does not recognize dual nationality and on Monday said it would treat the victims as Iranian nationals.
Canada, which had 57 citizens on the flight, said there were still no firm plans for downloading the recorders. Ottawa and other capitals have called for the black boxes to be sent abroad.
The Jan. 8 plane disaster has heightened international pressure on Iran as it grapples with a long-running dispute with the United States over its nuclear program and its influence in the region that briefly erupted into open conflict this month.
The Iranian military has said it downed Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 in error in the aftermath of tit-for-tat strikes by the United States and Iran. But authorities delayed admitting this, prompting days of protests on Iran’s streets.
Ukraine held a ceremony at Kiev’s Boryspil airport on Sunday as the bodies of 11 citizens, including nine crew, were returned to Ukraine.