Hong Kong Apostasy
Kitty Hung Hiu Han (洪曉嫻, 1989-) is an educator and writer and Lester Shum (岑敖暉, 1993-) is an activist and a former student leader currently serving as an assistant to Eddie Chu Hoi-dick (朱凱廸, 1977-), a prominent pro-democracy lawmaker.
Kitty Hung’s essay — ‘Freedom-Cunts’自由閪 — was published by The Stand News 立場新聞 on 27 August 2019. It is followed by ‘Now, Anything is Possible!’— 還有甚麼是不可能的?! — by Lester Shum, which appeared on the same day, also in The Stand News. Both authors have previously featured in our series ‘Hong Kong Apostasy’, see Kitty Hung, ‘How Dare You Hong Kong People Resist!’, 18 August 2019; and, Lester Shum, ‘Auntie Carrie, Puh-leeze!’, 22 August 2019.
Accounts of sexual harassment, abuse and assault, be they reported, real or rumoured, served to enrage those participating in and supporting the 2019 Anti-Extradition Bill Protests in Hong Kong. An already volatile situation was exacerbated by the fact that, from June 2019, the government steadfastly rejected tirelessly repeated demands to set up an independent investigation into police brutality.
The curious result of the recalcitrant behaviour of the Beijing-Hong Kong Xi Jinping-Carrie Lam-Cheng Ngor Yuet cabal was that, whereas the protesters were agitating to reaffirm the social contract related to the civilian life and the legal system that characterised the territory for decades, the appointed authorities were instead ‘leaning into’ the Communist Party philosophy that was focussed on endless punitive struggle and punishment, a dogma that lies at the core of the ‘People’s Democratic Dictatorship’ 人民民主專政 on Mainland China. This form of unabashed dictatorship features as the second of the Four Cardinal Principles 四項基本原則 of Party rule. It was announced with considerable fanfare by Deng Xiaoping in March 1979, just as another period of popular protest was being quashed in Beijing.
Apart from scarce moments of internal debate and hesitance in the mid 1980s, the Communists have pursued a strategy of militant and repressive dictatorship relentlessly for over four decades. We would also note that, under the post-1949 party-state rule of Mao-Liu-Deng-Lin-Zhou-Hua from the 1950s up to the late 1970s, this brand of draconian Party rule was previously carried out under the auspices of the ‘Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ 無產階級專政.
— Geremie R.Barmé
Editor, China Heritage
4 September 2019
- Anti-Extradition Bill Protest Movement Updates, Nearsnake (Chinese)
- ‘Hong Kong police accused of indecent assault after protester strip searched days after arrest’, Hong Kong Free Press, 23 August 2019
- ‘MeToo集會：稱遭全裸搜身呂小姐：「企出黎，我地手牽手，話俾全世界知咩係事實，咩係大話。」’,《立場新聞》, 28 August 2019
- Global News, ‘Hong Kong protests: #MeToo rally held against alleged police behaviour’, YouTube, 28 August 2019
- Raquel Carvalho, ‘Thousands gather at #MeToo rally to demand Hong Kong police answer accusations of sexual violence against protesters’, South China Morning Post, 28 August 2019
- Jennifer Creery, ‘#ProtestToo: Hongkongers adopt anti-sexual harassment rallying cry in response to police assault allegations‘, Hong Kong Free Press, 29 August 2019
- ‘ProtestToo: 警察性暴力非個別事件 用作凸顯自己權力地位及剝奪他人的人格尊嚴’, 《立場新聞》, 29 August 2019 (reprinted from Facebook)
- 伍雅謙, ‘獨家: 再有裸搜女揭警性暴 轟警捏造記事冊: 見到私處先放過我‘, 《蘋果日報》, 30 August 2019
- Rose Troup Buchanan, ‘Rape threats, body-shaming and doctored photos: Hong Kong women protesters facing troll army‘, Hong Kong Free Press, 2 September 2019 (reprinted from AFP)
A Note on 自由-HI, ‘Freedom-Cunt’
On 13 June 2019, a riot-gear-wearing Hong Kong policeman was filmed taunting protesters by shouting:
‘Come on, let’s have you — fucking freedom cunts!’
— for the video, see here.
Here the word for ‘cunt’ 閪 is pronounced ‘hi/ hai’. It features in the common Cantonese 粗口, or vulgarism, 屌你老母[閪], ‘fuck your mother’s [cunt]’, an expression that is equivalent both in meaning and frequency of use to the northern obscenity 肏你媽[個屄], or 他媽的, a hallowed ‘national swearword’ 國罵 that is also known as China’s 三字經, or ‘three-word classic’. (In Standard Chinese the character 閪 is pronounced sē, although its meaning is unrelated to genitalia.)
The incident involving the policeman on 13 June led to the creation of a new Chinese character in which 自由 zi6 jau4 — ‘freedom’ — was melded with 閪 hai1, or ‘hi’, to create the compound character ‘自由-HI’, literally, ‘Freedom-Cunt’. (For Kitty Hung’s depiction of this neologism, see below.)
— adapted from the editorial note to Lee Yee 李怡,
‘This is Who We Are — We Are Hong Kong’
China Heritage, 22 July 2019
Kitty Hung Kiu Han 洪曉嫻
Translated and annotated by Geremie R. Barmé
On Sunday night [the 25th of August] I attended ‘Sextime Story’, a performance piece staged as part of the 2019 Hong Kong Women’s Festival. Before leaving home I been wondering to myself:
‘There’s shooting out there on the streets and clouds of tear gas everywhere. Young women like me have been stripped and subjected to abuse in police stations and young men have been beaten until they are covered in blood. Yet here I am safely sitting in a hotel writing my inoffensive little romantic tales. What the heck for?’
When I got to the festival venue I told Pik Kei [Wong Pik Kei 黃碧琪], the main performer of ‘Sextime Story’, that I had really been tempted to miss the show entirely. You see, I told her, when violence and abuse reign supreme out on the streets, I simply don’t know if I can justify all this self-indulgent chatter about love, lust and desire.
星期日晚上去了 Women’ s Festival 的 Sextime Story，出發之前我一直問自己一個問題，外面在開槍、街上盡是催淚彈，我們的女孩在警署裡脫光羞辱、男孩被亂棍打得血流披面拖行在地，我在雅緻的酒店讀著自己不痛不癢的情慾故事，到底有什麼意思？我對舞者碧琪說，我出門前，閃過好幾次臨時缺席的念頭，在暴力肆虐的時代下，我不是很知道談情慾的意義在哪裡。
But, in the end, there I was, and I listened to a number of speakers: they recounted stories of surreptitious love and of hurt; and there were confessions. Sitting there I did appreciate the fact that, for each and every one of them, what they were relating to us was of profound importance to them as individuals. The reason so many of us have such difficulty in talking openly about our loves and desires is because of the unstinting unsympathetic glare of society. But it all begs the question: talking about desire, or advocating the liberation of the individual, what’s it all for?
‘While we are in bed, they are on the battle field.’
As I related my own insignificant story I felt a profound sense of powerlessness.
Yet I was also more certain than ever that the liberation of desire, the expression of lust was not only about self-seeking pleasure. It was far more than that; it was also about confronting suffering and fighting back against the evils imposed on us by the world at large.
It helped give us the wherewithal to maintain a sense of self in the face of all the kinds of violence and suffering that could be visited upon any one of us at any time.
That night there were unconfirmed reports that a young woman had been raped while in policy custody. Even without being substantiated that kind of news was hardly surprising. All the way back in 2010 in an online discussion forum hosted by the Hong Kong Police someone had posted a message saying they wanted to get hold of [the activist] Christina Chan [Chan Hau Man 陳巧文, 1987-] so that he could fuck her nonstop.
While we can’t confirm the latest news of the reported abuse of that young woman, in light of the ongoing violence and brutality of the police, it isn’t particularly hard to imagine that they might use their batons — which during the protests have already become something like constant extensions to their arms anyway — like another extension — that of their penises and deployed as a dildo.
— from Raquel Carvalho,‘Thousands gather at #MeToo rally’
South China Morning Post, 28 August 2019
The calculated invasive assault on a person’s body; using another’s body as something on which to vent your own frustrations; these are all aimed at denigration, whether it be of a girl who has been detained and is then stripped down to her briefs, or when the police pat a woman’s body with their pens. It also holds true in cases where male protesters are subject to genital humiliation; let alone in the case of violent, calculated rape. The abusers have the same aim in mind — bullying and humiliation.
They are purposefully employing such tactics to terrorise protesters. They are, in effect, declaring:
‘So, you think you can get away with protesting in the streets? Then get yourself ready for a good dose of physical abuse.’
The intimidation starts the minute they make you stand there for a mug shot, but it goes on, extending though beatings with sticks and police batons. It has also come to include them enlisting street toughs to knife people in the open. They drag in protesters who’ve already surrendered to them. Then, once they’ve got you in the cells of the police station, they are free to apply the full range of illegal and non-sanctioned forms of torture on you … .
There’s nothing I can do to stop such cowardly acts and I don’t even know if I could fight back if and when they targeted me like that. But the repressive machinery of the authorities has us in its sights: they know that beneath our flimsy carapace — the pathetic little wooden shields people carry; the hot plates they use; the hardhats and face masks; the 60926 air filters used to keep out all the tear gas — apart from that, the only thing we possess are our all-too-frail bodies. That’s it: brittle bones that are unable to withstand the onslaught of their projectiles. And that’s why the authorities are devising every means at their disposal to punish the one thing we have with which to resist them: our bodies.
我沒有辦法去制止這種惡行，甚至也不知道在惡與暴力來臨的時候，我可以如何反抗，但是政權與國家機器看準了我們除了薄薄的木盾、蒸肉碟、頭盔眼罩和 60926 底下，只有一具脆弱的肉身，以血肉之驅抵擋著強刃的子彈，所以政權必然想盡一切的方法去踐踏我們的身體。
Friends from all quarters [and at the Women’s Festival] advise women like me to build up our strength through regular exercise and strict discipline, by participating in group training sessions and through self-defence classes. Psychologically we all know that we must prepare for the kind of indiscriminate violence that is now a basic tactic in the armory of this thuggish police force. But as I take in such well-meaning advice I can’t help going back to where I began these thoughts: how should one reconsider our quest for self-actualisation; how should we ponder the right to love and lust in a time of social and political chaos such as this? Lustful desire can hardly protect us from the clubs of brute force. Though, perhaps, if we are more certain of just who we are and what our real desires are, we may be in a better position emotionally to withstand those depredations when they are visited upon us.
‘Do you really think you can intimidate me just because you’ve fucked me? You’re really far too confident in the abilities of your damned dick!’
Of course, as I write these words I’m also asking myself: Could I really do that? And, honestly, I have to admit: I simply don’t know. When the time comes maybe I’ll just crumple in a heap. Although there is one thing that I believe we can all do together:
I know lots of high-school students have watched ‘Sex Education’ [a British teen comedy-drama series released on Netflix in early 2019 about the hypersexualised atmosphere of high school]. Do you remember the ‘vagina-shaming’ episode [Episode Five] when Ruby [one of the ‘mean girls’ at the school who is rich, pretty yet also a pain in the arse] gets involved in a social media fiasco because her gal pal Olivia is jealous of her popularity? Olivia threatens to use her social media account to circulate to the whole school a selfie that Ruby has taken of her vagina [actually a full-frontal photo of her vulva].
Ruby is at her wits end [because she’s mortified at the thought of being ‘slut-shamed’ in front of the student body]. Nonetheless, the photo is circulated and everyone makes fun of it. At a school assembly, however, one after another the girls all ‘claim cunt’ by declaring that the picture is of them. Even the boys stand up and declare ‘We’re All Cunts’ — including Olivia, the one who started it all. The threat of the revealing image is immediately undone and as a result of the incident school kids who are usually divided on the basis of gender, class and petty cliques come together as one.
我知道許多中學生都有看英劇 Sex Education，記不記得有一幕是 Ruby（學校裡漂亮有錢又討人厭的其中一名女生）的閨蜜 Olivia 對其因妒成恨，將 Ruby 陰道自拍照公開，並恐嚇要公佈陰道的主人。自己的陰道遭到眾人的傳閱和取笑，Ruby 怕得不知所措，結果在全校的 assembly 上，所有女孩都站起來「認領陰道」，一個個舉手表示「這是我的陰道」，包括男同學也站了起來，萬人一閪（這個萬人也包括了 Olivia）瓦解了艷照的恐嚇，並重新團結了本來因為性傾向、階級而分派分黨的同學們。
Do you also remember the ‘Free Cunt’ chant and image that appeared among the protesters a couple of months back? [See the Editorial Note that prefaces this essay.] I believe that this is a time when we are being tested as to whether what we say and how we act are in sync. We might not be able to experience the same suffering and pain as those young women in police custody, but we can be witness to what is happening and empathise with their agony.
Perhaps then this is a time to break free of the very things that usually bind us:
- Put an end to the body-shaming of others;
- Stop judging people’s worth on the basis of sex or identity;
- Don’t vilify women whose views you don’t agree with by calling them ‘Public Toilets’ or ‘Stinking Chickens’ [prostitutes].
If, like me, you are outraged by the kinds of sexual violence being perpetrated by the thug-police, then I believe that it is more important than ever to refuse to be party to sexual violence and transgressions in our own daily lives.
Like the brave warriors who returned from the protests at New Town Plaza at Sha Tin [on 5 August 2019] — young men and women — they deserve all the plaudits we can bestow upon them. And, in their lives we need to help create a more open and enlightened sexual environment so that they will not be hurt a second time around. As for those vile cowards who would abuse our spirits and punish our bodies, we must forever reject and ridicule their pathetic weakness.
The #Metoo Demonstration organised as part of the
Anti-Extradition Bill Protest Movement
Date: Wednesday 28 August
Approved Venue: Charter Park
Sponsor: Women’s Collective for Equal Opportunity
日期：8 月 28 日 （三）
- 洪曉嫻, ‘自由閪’, 《立場新聞》, 2019年8月27日
We protest to demand action be taken against members of the police force who have sexually assaulted detainees. We demand protection of the dignity of all Hong Kong People.
We call on all those attending this demonstration to write ‘#ProtestToo’ on their arms in lipstick.
「8.28 #metoo 集會」，以「執法為名，凌辱為實」為口號，追究警察性暴力，捍衛香港人尊嚴。大會呼籲參與者屆時以唇膏在手臂寫上「#ProtestToo」。
Now, Anything is Possible!
Lester Shum 岑敖暉
Translated and annotated by Geremie R. Barmé
It is taking all of the willpower I can muster to resist the urge to believe reports that one of our female protesters who was detained by the police during the 11 August demonstrations was gang raped while in custody at the Sun Uk Lang Police Holding Centre [at Dragon Ditch 龍坑, adjacent to the border with Shenzhen and over forty kilometres from Tsim Sha Tsui on the Kowloon Peninsula].
[Note: see 張柃, ‘直擊: 港警恐怖扣押室 —— 新屋嶺位置神秘守衛森嚴, 連附近村民都未聽過’, 《壹週刊》，2019年8月27日; and,
大宇 新聞拍案驚奇, ‘恐怖! 香港新屋嶺拘留中心 私刑？輪姦？反送中被捕者遭遇惹疑雲’, YouTube, 27 August 2019]
‘Surely such a thing is impossible; it can’t possibly be true. I hope it’s been misreported, a media mash up, an exaggeration. I hope and pray it’s a collective rumour pile up.’
I kept saying these words to myself as I felt my body trembling in dumbstruck horror, sick to my very stomach. I held out hope that the reports were only a media mash up.
But, now in Hong Kong today, is there really anything left that’s entirely beyond the pale? Outside of the realm of possibility? Isn’t it obvious that the bestial police are capable of absolutely anything, no matter how heinous or despicable?
[Note: The South China Morning Post reported on the events of the 11th of August in the following way:
‘Parts of Tsim Sha Tsui, Sham Shui Po, Wan Chai and Kwai Chung became smoking war zones once again yesterday, as anti-extradition bill protesters continued their new hit-and-run tactics to stay one step ahead of police, responding to bricks and petrol bombs with barrages of tear gas and baton charges.
“Our aim is no injuries, no bleeding and not getting arrested,” said a 17-year-old student protester yesterday, who gave his family name as Chan.
“I think our previous tactics of staying in one place led to many arrests and injuries… We need to ‘be water’ to avoid injuries,” he told AFP at the Victoria Park gathering.
‘However his wishes were not fulfilled as a young nurse was shot at close range, taking a round to her eye. A frontline doctor said her eye had been ruptured and she would lose vision in that eye.’
According to the Hospital Authority, as of 11am today, the number of injured from yesterday’s clashes numbered 45 people, with the youngest person being 8 years old. Two are in severe condition, 23 are stable and 20 have already left hospital. However, it is uncertain how many were injured in total, as many people may avoid going to the hospital out of fear.
— from YP Team, ‘Hong Kong protests: What happened on August 11 in
Tsim Sha Tsui, Sham Shui Po, Wan Chai and Kwai Chung’,
South China Morning Post, 12 August 2019
See also the report by Mike Ives, Ezra Cheung and Katherine Li, ‘Hong Kong Convulsed by Protest as Police Fire Tear Gas Into Subway’, The New York Times, 11 August 2019]
非常不願意相信 811 被捕女手足在新屋嶺被輪姦一事是真的。
To be honest, ever since the artist they arrested [on 5 July for giving the police a finger] claimed when he was arraigned in court that his genitals had been interfered with by an officer who spoke with a mainland accent, a range of disturbing scenarios started popping into my mind. But I just didn’t want to give credence to such things; I resisted thinking that any of them might actually be possible.
[Note: On the artist-protester, see ‘包圍警總「畫家」被控三罪，庭上投訴遭警員侮辱、性侵、恐嚇’, 《端媒體》2019年7月5日]
We did not want to believe that:
- The police would blatantly target the heads of protesters when they shot bean bag projectiles and tear gas canisters. Today we know that has become the normal course of events;
We did not want to believe that:
- Just for swearing at the police in the street you might get beaten up, arrested and charged with a crime. Today we know that is par for the course.
After the incidents involving Franklin Chu and The Seven Policemen we fooled ourselves into believing that now this time around, surely, the police would show greater restraint. After all, they knew because of those earlier cases that if they broke the very laws they were empowered to enforce it had legal consequences.
Today, however, we have been forced to realise that the normal state of things in Hong Kong is one in which the police can collectively engage in various kinds of illegal conduct with absolute impunity.
[Note: Franklin Chu King Wai (朱經緯, 1959-) was a retired senior police officer who was found guilty of assaulting a protester with a police baton during the Occupy/ Umbrella Movement in late 2014. He was sentenced to three months jail for the offence in January 2018.
‘The Seven Policemen’ 七警 is a shorthand for an incident involving seven officers who were caught on camera beating the activist Ken Tsang 曾健超 at Tamar Park during the 2014 protests. Those involved were eventually charged with assault and were subsequently jailed for two years (see ‘The Case of the Seven Policemen’ 七警案 and ‘The Beating of Ken Tsang’)]
We repeatedly told ourselves that we wouldn’t, couldn’t, believe anything until we had seen solid evidence. Despite the fact we didn’t want to believe, time and again things have happened that show there is no sign there will be any let up in their arrant behaviour.
Moreover, from the 11th of August [when ] is anything really beyond the realm of possibility? Is there anything which these animals will not stoop to doing?
[As a result of the protests of the 11th of August] Fifty-four detainees were sent to San Uk Lang. They were denied access to legal counsel on the night of their arrest. In some cases, the police repeatedly hung up on the lawyers who attempted to contact them by telephone. Members of the riot squad themselves even had to admit that thirty-one detainees required hospitalisation, six of whom were suffering from broken bones and other serious injuries.
而且，自從 811 起，究竟有甚麼是不可能的？有甚麼是牠們做不出的？
Still, despite all of this, we remained unwilling to believe the rumours that members of the Mainland police and people’s armed police have been allowed to insinuate themselves into the Hong Kong force. To believe such things is simply too terrifying;
Still, we were unwilling to believe that detainees are being beaten up and abused while in police custody.
We were unwilling to believe that they would be forced to confess under torture.
We were unwilling to believe because we could only believe that such things couldn’t happen here, even if they were commonplace on the Chinese Mainland;
Still, we were unwilling to believe that female protesters detained by the police could ever be subjected to sexual abuse or sexual assault, for to give credence to such things was simply beyond our very worst fears.
The reality, however, is that each of these things has come to pass. What’s even more horrifying is our realisation that those who are culpable face no consequences for their actions. Not only are they being supported by their compatriots, by their families and by the Triad thugs, even the government, the Communist Party media, the state media as well as the much-vaunted 1.3 billion ‘People of China’ are waving the flag of patriotism and egging them on. That’s why they will, of course, get off scot-free.
What else, then, might be beyond the realm of possibility?!
All of this has served to prepare us for how we can no matter how reluctantly digest this latest shocking news, news that simply makes you quake in shock, feel sick in the pit of your stomach and want to retch in utter disgust.
Given license to employ unbridled power, to impose punishments and torture under the cloak of secrecy — thus they can satisfy their bloodlust. As woman after woman is subject to abuse, will they ever be held to account? How can we possibly get our heads around all of this:
How is it possible to tolerate such brutish behaviour here in this city of ours?
How can we possibly tolerate the fact that any individual, any woman, any fellow protester might also be the object of such treatment and be abused like this?
As individuals what should we, rather, what can I do in response?