The Week That Was

Hong Kong Protests Turn Violent


Hundreds of pro-democracy students stormed government headquarters in Hong Kong last night, in continued protests against the Chinese government’s control of elections. Police attacked demonstrators with pepper spray and surrounded them with metal barriers, while thousands of protesters remained outside the buildings.

On Thursday reported how thousands of college students had skipped classes to take part in demonstrations and marches, as pro-democracy groups continued to build support for their cause. The article also made note of Joshua Wong, the 17 year old founder of student protest group Scholarism. Reuters reported on Friday night that Joshua was dragged away by police while shouting encouragement to those who remained. Bleeding from his arm, he told the crowd:

“Hong Kong’s future belongs to you, you and you. I want to tell C.Y. Leung and Xi Jinping that the mission of fighting for universal suffrage does not rest upon the young people, it is everyone’s responsibility. I don’t want the fight for democracy to be passed down to the next generation. This is our responsibility.”

Forums and live video streams shared images from the protest, including those claiming to show journalists being attacked by police and reporters giving supplies to demonstrators. Activists are using social media to coordinate their efforts and to get their stories out to the rest of the world.

Australia Anti-Terror Bills Criticised


As Western nations responded to renewed threats from Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) at the start of the week, one of the worrying questions was how tougher anti-terror laws will effect the freedoms of civilians.  

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned that a balance of freedom and security would need to be re-examined, as he gave a special address to parliament.

“The delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift. There may be more restrictions on some so that there can be more protections for others. After all, the most basic freedom of all is the freedom to walk the streets unharmed and to sleep safe in our beds at night.”

Days later, the Australian government’s first wave of tough new anti-terrorism bills passed the Senate by 44 votes to 12. These new laws strengthen the powers of spy agency ASIO while threatening journalists and whistleblowers with long jail sentences.

The bill, the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014, will now be sent to the House of Representatives, where passage is all but guaranteed on Tuesday at the earliest.

Anyone – including journalists, whistleblowers and bloggers – who “recklessly” discloses “information … [that] relates to a special intelligence operation” faces up to 10 years’ jail.

Any operation can be declared “special” by an authorised ASIO officer

Sydney Morning Herald

ASIO would also have the ability to monitor multiple devices on a network as well as the internet with a single warrant, modify or delete data on machines they are monitoring and be immune from “criminal and civil liability in certain circumstances.” Anyone identifying an ASIO operative could also face ten years in prison. Media organisations, lawyers and rights activists have condemned the laws.



[Images: Twitter, European People’s Party, YouTube, Matthew Peoples ]

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