Earlier this week, Hong Kong singer, actress, and pro-democracy activist Denise Ho was on CNN, explaining to Fareed Zakaria why the people of Hong Kong are taking to the street.
Ho spoke after marching alongside an estimated 2 million other Hongkongers on Sunday to protest against a controversial extradition bill that would allow suspects to be taken to mainland China for trial.
Here’s a few key questions and answers:
The chief executive is announcing a suspension, which means, I’m guessing, they’re hoping that they can put this on the back burner, let the protest die out, and then bring it back. Do you think that will happen?
This is really the last line for Hong Kong people because we are a very autonomous and, you know, we are a population who have had this freedom of speech and we are very afraid that this will go away from us. So this is really the last line. And probably I think Carrie Lam, she did not expect all these people on the streets.
And with the way that she has announced a suspension of the bill yesterday, it is still not enough for us because we have been tricked and lied to enough for all these years and Hong Kong people are smart enough to know that that is a tactic from the Chinese and Hong Kong government.
And we do not accept that suspension. We want this bill to be withdrawn. And even with the apology… and that is also not enough. We cannot feel Carrie Lam genuinely apologizing and retracting this bill. You know, until this day, I think we will still fight on.
Does that mean you want the chief executive to resign and nothing less will end the protests?
Yes, of course. We want her resignation and also the extraction of this extradition bill. We do not want a path to this bill because that is something that has been done before. And we have been, you know, tricked a lot of times. So our demands are very clear. The withdrawal of this bill and also her resignation. Yes.
You are up against one of the most powerful governments in the world, the Beijing government. What makes you think you can prevail?
So I think we — the whole world is facing the same problem right now which is, in fact, China is a very big power that is overshadowing everyone. And with a country who does not respect human rights and, you know, is a very dangerous thing for the whole world.
So I believe that, you know, everyone should be aware of this — that is happening in Hong Kong right now and also I believe in the power of people from different countries empowering others. Like something happening in Hong Kong it can affect something in Taiwan which is happening right now. The elections in Taiwan is having a very big twist because of what’s happening in Hong Kong. And so, you know, I have hope in the people. As long as we keep being as flexible and as creative and as united as we are, I think there is still hope.
A lot of people in China will tell you that the Chinese people don’t want democracy. They don’t want Western freedoms. What do you say to them?
Human rights are something that is, you know, that everyone needs and is — we have the right to have these freedoms. And I don’t think that all of the population in China believes that they don’t need democracy. I know a lot of at least my friends like they are very frustrated and angry at what is happening right now even in China. All the censorship and all these lawyers and activists being locked up. It is only a matter of time where things will change and the people will stand up.
2 million Hongkongers on the streets today!!!!😭😭😭😭
Double the amount from last Sunday’s protest, a strong statement to the Hong Kong Government, calling for the withdrawal of the extradition bill and for Carrie Lam to step down.#noextraditiontochina pic.twitter.com/shH1EF22OG
— Denise Ho (HOCC) (@hoccgoomusic) June 16, 2019
One of the final protesters to be dragged away by police from in front of the government headquarters in Admiralty at the tail end of the Umbrella Movement in 2014, Ho has been blacklisted from performing in the mainland and lost her record deal because of her activism.
That outcome hasn’t bothered Ho, who says she will always put freedom ahead of cash. In May, she gave a presentation at the Oslo Freedom Forum about creative dissent in Hong Kong.