Standoffs in Vancouver, Toronto . . .
As Hong Kong braces for its 14th week of protests, clashes between pro-Hong Kong and pro-Beijing groups in Canada have become more frequent. Last month, hundreds of pro-democracy supporters gathered in Vancouver and Toronto to rally against the controversial extradition bill and alleged police brutality. Groups in both locations were met by pro-Beijing counter-protesters.
Guns and machetes . . .
While last month’s Canadian standoffs ended peacefully, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) recently questioned an organizer of the pro-Beijing protests over group discussions on WeChat in which some supporters spoke of bringing guns and machetes to protests. A pro-Beijing camp organizer said to media, “this is all a joke, and I asked people don’t make any jokes. We’re gonna be very peaceful here.” While the VPD said there is no ongoing investigation, pro-Hong Kong activists filed a formal police complaint.
Similar clashes in Australia, New Zealand . . .
Australia and New Zealand have also witnessed clashes between two groups at university campuses and elsewhere. At the University of Auckland in July, three male students from Mainland China argued with and shoved to the ground a female student from Hong Kong. In Australia, pro-Beijing and pro-Hong Kong groups have clashed at several universities, and a recent protest in Melbourne drew an estimated 600 people from both sides. These incidents are raising concerns for police and policy-makers about how to protect freedom of speech for all forms of political opinion while ensuring political speech does not turn violent.
- CBC: Hundreds gather at pro-democracy rally in Vancouver to support Hong Kong protests
- The Guardian: Police warning after pro-Hong Kong rally in Melbourne turns violent
- South China Morning Post: After pro-China camp suggest taking gun and machetes to deal with Vancouver’s ‘trash’ Hong Kong protesters, police ask questions