#IdleNoMore social movements #ubc #occupyed

by Stephen Petrina on November 8, 2014

CBC News, October 24, 2014– Idle No More was one of the largest Indigenous mass movements in recent history, sparking hundreds of teach-ins, rallies and protests across the country. On Friday night in Saskatoon, a group of educators and grad students learned about how it all came together.

People involved in the movement addressed members of the Canadian History of Education Association. Lynn Lemisko with the Association says there’s a history of teach-ins, like Idle No More, being used as a resistance movement.

“It’s a powerful example in the way in which resistance can be done in a peaceful way through dancing and just gathering together and demonstrating,” Lemisko said.

Lemisko says mass social movements can be successful even if they don’t result in clear, measurable outcomes, such as legislative changes. She says they heighten awareness and help develop critical thinking. And she says educators are interested in how the Idle No More Movement changed the social and political landscape in Canada.

“Is this something that we can borrow and use in our own lives in our own ways that we want to support social justice resist and reconcile?” Lemisko asked. Lemisko says a similar effort could be hard to duplicate. She says some mass movements just happen because there are forces that come together at a particular moment in time for whatever reason.

Read More: CBC News

{ 0 comments }

NEW MASTERS PROGRAM IN THE INSTITUTE FOR CRITICAL EDUCATION STUDIES
CRITICAL PEDAGOGY AND EDUCATION ACTIVISM
BEGINS JULY 2014

APPLY NOW!

The new UBC Masters Program in Critical Pedagogy and Education Activism (Curriculum Studies) has the goal of bringing about positive change in schools and education. This cohort addresses issues such as environmentalism, equity and social justice, and private versus public education funding debates and facilitates activism across curriculum and evaluation within the schools and critical analysis and activism in communities and the media. The cohort is organized around three core themes: solidarity, engagement, and critical analysis and research.

BCTFRallySignJune2014

The new UBC M.Ed. in Critical Pedagogy and Education Activism (Curriculum Studies) is a cohort program in which participants attend courses together in a central location. It supports participation in face-to-face, hybrid (blended), and online activism and learning.

A Perfect Opportunity

  • Earn your Master’s degree in 2 years (part-time)
  • Enjoy the benefits of collaborative study and coalition building
  • Channel your activism inside and outside school (K-12)
  • Sharpen your knowledge of critical practices and skill with media and technology

{ 0 comments }

#Workplace preprints available #criticaled #highered

by Stephen Petrina on October 31, 2014

WORKPLACE: A JOURNAL FOR ACADEMIC LABOR
PREPRINTS AVAILABLE

 

{ 0 comments }

iPopU
Innovation in Evaluation

Mayor of iPopU
Edutainum Infinitum

Facebook-thumbs-up

Let’s face it: Evaluation is silly. Reviews of programs and units in universities in this day and age are even sillier. Units put the Unit in Unitversity, so what’s to review? No one really believes the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education when they boast in the naval-gazing Self-Study Guide that “undertaking a self-study is a major enterprise” or “self-study cannot be done well under rushed conditions.” Says who? These academic proverbs sell booklets with a wink wink and a chuckle.

That is the gist of the administrative genius of a major innovation in evaluation at iPopU. We drilled down to what is the core of the Review process and then inventoried trends to find that the Rating widget solves every problem of evaluation.

There are three types of evaluations, Conformative, Normative, and Summative, or what I’m told is better known in the field nowadays as Corporative, and the Rating widget solves all three at once. Yes, I hear you nodding, quite the little workhorse that Rating widget!

Yet, it took iPopU to repurpose it to the depth work of admin.

When we announced that it was time for Reviews, the yawning started and then came the dragging of the heels, for years. Check, we hear you when you say evaluations never change anything. Check, we hear you when you say you have better things to do. Check, we hear you when you say self-studies can be completed by a grad student or staff member with a Fillitin app on their phones. Check, we hear you when you say accreditation is a carry-over make-work relic of the medieval scholiastics. Check, we see you when you ask there must be a better way.

In one School, we have fourteen senior administrators who are already bumping into each other. Assigning a few to oversee a Review just adds to this. Remember, a bustling administrative office is like hot air when heated with a fan, electrons expand and collide with each other. In the old days, we dragged out Reviews for years, from one to the next, thinking that the best review was the prolonged review. We had two Associate Deans of the Office of Review. When we reviewed our 65 programs some time ago, comic relief faculty lovingly referred to this as a three-ring circus and then posted it on iPopUtube as a keystone cops episode. So we made admin offices bigger to avoid that. But, I listen to you wondering, are these admins underworked? I answer to that, better to have many than few. Am I right?

So iPopU introvated and in 2013 did all Reviews with the Rating widget.

Read More: iPopU: Innovation in Evaluation

{ 0 comments }

CFP for iPopU #edstudies #occupyed #criticaled

by Stephen Petrina on October 26, 2014

CFP: iPopU

Topdown 100 Innorenovations 
Special Issue of Workplace (iPopU2015

iPopU is cataloguing its mold-breaking outside-the-box ‘you won’t find these on the shelf of brick and mortar’ innorenovations. So this is a chance for U to contribute to the iPopU Topdown 100 countdown. See the Innovation in Evaluation nomination for No. 11 in iPopU’s Topdown 100.

Contributions to the iPopU Topdown 100 for Workplace should be about 500-1,500 words in length and yield to iPopU style. Submit all iPopU Topdown 100 innorenovations via the Workplace OJS.

{ 0 comments }

Via the CoCal distribution list:

*Call for Submissions*: *Teaching Poor: Voices of the Academic Precariat*

The career of college professor, giving back to the society that provided for them through education, was once a respectable path to the middle class. That class position is now slipping through the hands of the very people who helped create it, thanks to the erosion of tenured and tenure-track positions in favor of short-term contract positions without security. What should be rags to riches stories about the power of education to lift people out of poverty by providing a pathway to better jobs have become, for many academics, stories of stagnation, downward mobility, and outright impoverishment under the burden of massive debt uncompensated for by the very academy that helped contract faculty incur it.

*Teaching Poor: Voices of the Academic Precariat* will be a collection of voices from the world of so-called adjunct or contract college instructors who now teach 60-75% of all college courses in the United States and are paid wages equivalent to Walmart workers. In the tradition of Studs Terkel’s *Working*, *Teaching Poor* will honor both the difficulties and the triumphs of this new class of impoverished white collar laborers in the academic trenches, detailing personal struggles with the resultant poverty produced by low wages, crushing student loan debt, lack of healthcare and retirement provisions, and the professional and cultural costs this system levies on individuals and the students they teach.

I welcome creative non-fiction, biographical essay, short stories, poems, comics and, in the spirit of hacking the academy through digital humanities, may eventually expand to multimedia and a permanent archive of work similar to Story Corps. Length can vary wildly, but around 7500 words for prose is the average we’re looking for. Longer pieces will probably be reserved for the online archive.

This project is in its very early stages and I’m looking to see what kind of interest there is both in contributors and publishers before defining it or looking into other funding/publishing sources. I have publishers in mind (AK, Haymarket, Soft Skull, Atropos, Verso, ILR), but also welcome suggestions. I do want this to be more than a self-published ebook though, and perhaps something truly groundbreaking if we can make a collaboration work. Send your queries and submissions to Lee Kottner at teachingpoor@gmail.com by Jan. 1, 2015. That, too, is a very soft deadline, but please at least query by then.

{ 0 comments }

24-policeman-AFP-Getty

James Legge, The Independent, October 19, 2014–Pro-democracy demonstrators returned to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday night, undeterred by two days of violent clashes with police.

Some came equipped with helmets and home-made foam arm protectors to defend them against police batons. “I will continue to stay here until C Y [Leung, the city’s chief executive] resigns,” said Lap Cheung, 40, who left his IT job in the United States to return to Hong Kong for the protests. He added he had no hope of a breakthrough tomorrow at planned talks between student leaders and the authorities. The negotiations will be televised live.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, officers used pepper spray on demonstrators in the shopping district of Mong Kok, parts of which have been closed to road traffic by the demonstrators since the end of September.

The protests were sparked by anger over Beijing’s proposal for electing the city’s next chief executive in 2017. The plan, set out in August, dictates that all candidates require majority approval from a committee of mostly pro-Beijing members of the city’s elite. But Mr Leung suggested yesterday one area where the protesters might find concessions is in the make-up of that screening committee. He said: “There will be plenty of room for us to talk about how we can structure a nomination system so that we have genuine choice of candidates come 2017.”

He maintained that certain things remain off the table, reiterating that civic nomination, under which Hongkongers would put up their own candidates, would run contrary to the Basic Law – the mini-constitution under which Hong Kong is governed from Beijing but maintains greater freedoms than the mainland.

During the two-hour talks, Carrie Lam, the city’s chief secretary, will lead the government team, and five members of the Hong Kong Federation of students – including Lester Shum and Alex Chow – will represent the protesters. Both Mr Shum and Mr Chow have become well-known spokesmen for the mostly leaderless occupations, which are focused on the city’s political and financial power centre.

This is the third time both sides have agreed to meet for talks, but looks like being the first meeting actually to take place. The first was called off by protesters after violence from a counter-protest, and the second was cancelled by the government after it accused students of trying to use the meeting to rally more demonstrators.

On Sunday in Mong Kok occupiers attempted to grab territory on the arterial Nathan Road. Scuffles erupted before police surged forward with riot shields, forcing the protesters back. Dozens of people, including at least 22 police, were reportedly injured in the two consecutive nights of clashes going into yesterday morning.

The police chief superintendent Hui Chun-tak said the crowd included “activists from radical organisations as well as trouble-makers” and that four men were arrested.

He said protesters “charged the police cordon, trying to occupy the road junction. Repeated warnings were issued to stop charging the cordon. However, they were all ignored.”

Mr Leung said authorities would continue trying to clear the streets “in parallel” with the dialogue. This two-pronged strategy has fanned protesters’ anger further, with many major voices in the movement claiming that the continued attempts at clearance call into question Mr Leung’s sincerity in offering the talks.

In Mong Kok, protesters appeared defiant and also angry that the city government was portraying their campaign as increasingly radicalised and violent. Igloo Novas, a student, told Reuters that Hong Kong leaders must tell Beijing the “truth”, that the majority of Hong Kong people wanted to choose candidates in elections freely. “This is one compromise I can accept from the government,” she said.

Read More: The Independent

{ 0 comments }

Police removing #HongKongStudents barriers #scholarism

by Stephen Petrina on October 12, 2014

CBC, October 12, 2014– Hong Kong police began on Monday to remove barricades erected by pro-democracy protesters who have occupied several sites around the Chinese-controlled city for two weeks, according to protest group Occupy Central.

At the main protest site, around government offices in the downtown district of Admiralty, scores of student protesters faced off with police who were massing in the area, a Reuters witness said. The Hong Kong government has said the demonstrations are illegal.

On Saturday, student leaders issued an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, urging him to consider political reforms in the city and blaming the city’s unpopular leader for the demonstrations.

The letter, issued by two student groups leading the protests, said Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was responsible for a civil disobedience campaign that has seen tens of thousands of people throng the semi-autonomous city’s key thoroughfares over the past two weeks.

Thousands of demonstrators showed up in the main protest zone on Saturday, two days after Hong Kong’s government called off scheduled negotiations with students who are demanding voters have a greater say in choosing the city’s leader in 2017 elections.

The protesters have vowed to keep up the demonstrations until the government responds to their demands.

“Students walked out of classes and are occupying different places now because Leung and others have repeatedly ignored what the people want,” the letter read. “If the central government is confident, it should not be afraid to let Hong Kong people elect their own chief executive.”

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Friday that he was confident Hong Kong’s government can preserve “social stability.” He did not directly mention the protests, but stressed that Beijing won’t change its “one country, two systems” approach to running Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, a Chinese state-run newspaper blamed the United States for being behind the protests — a claim the U.S. State Department strongly rejected.

Read More: CBC

{ 0 comments }

_78140851_78140566

Daniel Schearf, Voice of America, October 12, 2014– Pro-democracy protest leaders in Hong Kong have vowed to continue their occupation of city streets after the Chinese territory’s leader soundly rejected their demands. Hong Kong’s chief executive also called their movement “out of control” and said it could not last very long.

Protesters Sunday voiced defiance after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said there was ‘zero chance’ of meeting their demands.

In an interview with TVB, Hong Kong’s Beijing-approved leader said China would never rescind its decision against open nomination of candidates for the chief executive post.

Leung also dismissed protester demands that he resign for allegedly failing to uphold Hong Kong’s constitution, the Basic Law.

Criticizes decision

Lester Shum, deputy secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students and a protest leader, said, “What C.Y. Leung, the chief executive, said, showed that the Hong Kong government still refuse to take the responsibility to face the political issue made by, or caused by, the Hong Kong government.”

Hong Kong is to hold a much anticipated first direct election for chief executive in 2017 as part of the Chinese territory’s unique “One Country, Two Systems” status.

But China’s National People’s Congress in August set out a plan that allows Beijing-leaning officials in Hong Kong to choose the candidates the public would be allowed to vote on.

The limitation on the former British colony’s democracy sparked students to boycott classes and lead the occupation of city streets, now in its third week.

Talks canceled

The number of protesters had declined in recent days, but got a boost Friday night when thousands answered a call to rally at the main demonstration site next to government offices.

Authorities had canceled a dialogue on constitutional reform with protest leaders Friday after calls for a new wave of civil disobedience.

Despite the boost, Shum acknowledged they are struggling to maintain the momentum of the movement as it is challenged by those disturbed by the barricaded streets.

“Yeah, I believe this movement has come to face a very difficult problem,” Shum said.

“It’s that … the government use every tactics to wish to delay our movement, to wish us to come home or give up our occupation. So, what we are going to do, or what we are facing is how we can convince the Hong Kong citizens and students to support us, to still support this occupation movement,” he said.

Groups of people opposed to the occupation, including taxi and truck drivers, have demonstrated against it. There are also sporadic arguments and fights with protesters.

Protesters add tents

Nonetheless, demonstrators over the weekend added new tents to the streets around government offices in a show of defiance and determination to develop a genuine democracy.

The protest became known as the “umbrella revolution” after protesters used umbrellas to peacefully defend themselves against police tear gas and pepper spray.

People hung notes of support shaped like umbrellas to a large, wire sculpture of an umbrella and added post-it notes to those already plastered on a nearby wall.

Frankie Lam, who brought his two children to see the demonstration, said Hong Kong authorities should stop making excuses for not allowing them to directly elect their leaders.

“They can do it. Just whether they are willing to do so. So, I think, for now, the Hong Kong people will try to … cooperate with each other, to try to fight …  (against) this unfair treatment,” Lam said.

When asked whether he thinks the protesters will succeed, Lam replied, “I don’t know. But, if you never ever try, you will never ever know. Just try our best to do something for our … for the next generation.”

Lam’s elementary school-aged son posted a note that read “Do Not Give Up” in Chinese characters.

Read More: VoA

{ 0 comments }

"Margaux and the Monarch"

“Margaux and the Monarch”

Ever futile is Capilano University’s game of whac-a-mole turn whac-a-sculpture, as yet one more caricature of President Kris Bulcroft has surfaced. When Blathering On in Krisendom surfaced Capilano University whacked it to pieces in May.

Now in October, where life imitates art as whac-a-sculpture, another has surfaced at the hands of sculptor George Rammell. Margaux and the Monarch is indeed a thing of beauty, mace, pen and pooch! What grand preparation for the graduation ceremony!

As Capilano’s Convocation guide indicates, “The mace depicts the authority vested in the University to…” well, fill in the blanks. “In keeping with this longstanding tradition” of a raw and visible demonstration of power, the Convocation guide indicates, “our ceremonial mace will be carried by Capilano University’s director of Buildings and Grounds.”

It is unlikely the Director of Building and Grounds will carry the entire sculpture. Just the mace. Margaux and the Monarch!

PS. Just looked outside and swear the garden gnome is now a  $^@&% ‘n mini-Margaux and the Monarch statue.

{ 0 comments }

dismantled_sculpture

George Rammell with the remnants of Blathering On in Krisendom, which Capilano university officials confiscated and dismantled.

Elizabeth Redden, Inside Higher EdOctober 8, 2014– It took 53 days for George Rammell to get back a sculpture he’d made caricaturing his university’s president and, when officials at British Columbia’s Capilano University finally returned it to him, it was in pieces.

“They gave it back to me all smashed up,” said Rammell, a former instructor at Capilano whose sculpture was seized from the studio arts building last spring by university officials on the grounds that it constituted “harassment” of Capilano President Kris Bulcroft.

“They claim they had to destroy it in order to move it, which is absolutely ridiculous. I’ve moved it myself.”

The original sculpture, titled Blathering On in Krisendom, depicted the president and her poodle as ventriloquist dolls draped in an American flag and was conceived, as Rammell explained it, as an “anti-monument” to the president in protest of her role in carrying out program cuts. Bulcroft oversaw the elimination of several programs, including the studio arts program in which Rammell taught, in a process that was later deemed by British Columbia’s Supreme Court to be contrary to the province’s University Act in that Capilano’s Senate was not consulted.

Rammell described the original sculpture as an example of constitutionally protected caricature, but Capilano’s former board chair, Jane Shackell, directed that it be confiscated from university property because it was, she said, being “used in a manner amounting to workplace harassment of an individual employee, intended to belittle and humiliate the president.”

In order to reclaim his artwork, Rammell said, he signed an agreement that stated that he would be permitted to work on the piece in the studio arts building until his employment at the university ended on July 31. After that time, he would remove the sculpture from campus and would not bring it back. Rammell said the agreement also stipulated that he would not display any photographs of the sculpture on campus until five years after the president’s retirement. (Rammell declined to share the text of the agreement he signed but described its contents to Inside Higher Ed. Capilano officials declined to comment on the specific terms of the grievance agreement, which a university spokeswoman described as related to a personnel matter and thus confidential.)

In compensation for the damages to the sculpture, Rammell said, he received the equivalent of four days’ teaching wages.

“In retrospect I should never have signed the stupid thing; I could have finished the sculpture without getting the heap back,” said Rammell.

Finish the sculpture he has. The new sculpture, made up of pieces of the original as well as newly created components, was unveiled last week in an event at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, in Vancouver. The piece has two faces, or fronts: a newly sculpted depiction of the president holding a mace backs up against the reassembled components of the original sculpture. Among the new elements of the sculpture, Rammell said a mace is intended to signify the trust placed in the university president, and a pen is intended to represent Bulcroft’s “unilateral” signing authority in eliminating the studio arts and other Capilano programs. The new piece is entitled Margaux and the Monarch, Margaux being the name of Bulcroft’s dog.

As for the American flag, Bulcroft previously worked at Western Washington University. Rammell said that while he has nothing against international hires, he did object to Bulcroft’s seeming disregard for a Canadian law, specifically the University Act.

“The whole piece is about academic freedom and everybody seems to be under threat,” Rammell said.

Bulcroft declined an interview through a Capilano spokeswoman, Borjana Slipicevic. A statement emailed by Slipicevic that repeatedly misspelled Rammell’s name said that “Capilano University is aware of Mr. Rammel’s current actions. The university is committed to a safe and respectful workplace for all faculty and staff; the decision to remove Mr. Rammel’s sculpture from campus was made in this vein. Capilano University and Mr. Rammel’s union negotiated a mutually acceptable settlement that resulted in giving the sculpture to Mr. Rammell; thus Capilano University considers this matter closed.”

As for the condition of the sculpture upon its return, the university’s statement said, “The effigy was dismantled to facilitate its removal; Mr. Rammel was advised that this was the case.”

Read More: Inside Higher Ed

{ 0 comments }

Talks underway #HongKongStudents revolution resolute

by Stephen Petrina on October 7, 2014

DSC_4297_1-676x450

Gu Qinger, Epoch Times, October 6, 2014– Preparatory talks are under way in Hong Kong between the student protesters and the government, but all signs suggest that normal life is not returning to Hong Kong anytime soon.

On Oct. 6, during the second round of preparatory talks between student representatives from the the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Ray Lau, Undersecretary of the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, both sides have agreed to have multiple rounds of discussion, with both sides on an equal footing, and with any agreement to be enforced by the government.

Yet students are wary of the officials speaking to them.

In April 2010 Ray Lau declared on the television program City Forum that Radio TV Hong Kong should play the dual roles of being the mouthpiece and supervisor of the Hong Kong government, which angered many people in Hong Kong. Radio Television Hong Kong is the public broadcaster of Hong Kong.

The voting record of Lau during his tenure as legislator of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong does not bode well for the students’ demands.

Lau voted against legislative bills on “Defending press freedom,” “Taking a positive stand on the demands by citizens participating in the July 1 march,” “Addressing the 20th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square Massacre,” and “Improving social stability by breaking up the monopolies.”

“To reduce violence and reduce casualties, police will take action at the appropriate moment,” Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said just hours before the two sides met to plan the upcoming talks. “I encourage students, bystanders and others to leave high-risk areas as soon as possible.”

One person offering an overture towards the students was Tung Chee-wha, former chief executive of Hong Kong, and vice chairman of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee.

“You guys have left behind everything to participate in the occupying movement and fight for democracy. You have made great sacrifices,” wrote Tung in a statement entitled “A Call to Those Students and Young People by Tung Chee-hwa.”

“For students and young people who take part in the protest, we have heard your democratic demands. We have heard them loud and clear,’ wrote Tung. “We understand your unwavering quest for ideals.”

That Tung addressed himself as “we” instead of “I” suggests the Chinese authorities would share his view to some extent, according to Apple Daily. In September this year, Tung Chee-hwa led a delegation of business leaders in Hong Kong to meet with Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping.

80 faculty members, including To Yiu-Ming, assistant professor in the Department of Journalism at Hong Kong Baptist University, issued a statement asking the government to take a step back and calm down. It asks the government to talk to the students and respond to their demands to avoid further social division on Oct. 5.

“Leung has not been willing to give in an inch. Every time there is a dialogue opportunity, something would happen, like thugs attacking peaceful protesters,” said Professor To.

Read More: Epoch Times

{ 0 comments }

#HongKongStudents defiant, regrouping

by Stephen Petrina on October 5, 2014

BzN0YE8CcAANRpG

Eyder Peralta, NPR, October 5, 2014– Update at 10:35 a.m. ET. No Sign Of Dispersing: Watching a live feed from the Admiralty and Mong Kok areas of Hong Kong, one thing is for certain: It does not appear that protesters are going anywhere. In fact, it appears that crowds in those two areas have grown.

The South China Morning Post reports that Federation of Students secretary-general Alex Chow Yong-kang addressed the crowd this evening, saying they are preparing for talks with the government.

Chow, however, noted that their demands had not changed: The federation wants to be able to nominate whoever they want as the city’s next chief executive.

Update at 8:15 a.m. ET. Confusion:

Reporting from Hong Kong, NPR’s Anthony Kuhn says that just as some protesters announced they were leaving the area surrounding the Chief Executive’s Office, other protesters came in.

This protest, he says, has, after all, been very decentralized.

The South China Morning Post has some detail:

“As the Mong Kok protesters were divided on moving out, there was similar confusion in Admiralty as dozens of protesters re-occupied the junction of Lung Wo Road and Tim Wa Avenue (the main entrance to CY Leung’s office) just moments after the crowd voted to clear that area.

“‘We strove hard to get this site. We shouldn’t give up this site without any government decision in favour of us,’ said Ben Liu Chi-fung, 20.

“‘The chief executive’s office is an important site,’ said student Tanson Tsui. ‘I think we cannot give up the basic principle of our demonstration: to press for the government to undo the unjust electoral reform framework.’ “

Read More: NPR

{ 0 comments }

#HongKongStudents protestors resolute against attacks

by Stephen Petrina on October 3, 2014

CBC, October 4, 2014–Hong Kong police said Saturday that they have arrested 19 people, some of whom are believed to have organized crime ties, after mobs tried to drive pro-democracy protesters from the streets where they have held a weeklong, largely peaceful demonstration.

At least 12 people and six officers were injured during the clashes, district commander Kwok Pak-chung said at a pre-dawn press briefing. Protest leaders called off planned talks with the government on political reforms after the battles kicked off Friday afternoon in gritty, blue-collar Mong Kok, across Victoria Harbour from the activists’ main protest camp.

Police struggled for hours to control the battles as attackers pushed, shoved and jeered the protesters. Those arrested face charges of unlawful assembly, fighting in public and assault, Kwok said, adding that eight men are believed to have backgrounds involving triads, or organized crime gangs.

The protesters urged residents to join their cause and demanded that the police protect their encampments. The Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the groups leading the demonstrations that drew tens of thousands of people earlier this week, said they saw no choice but to cancel the dialogue.

“The government is demanding the streets be cleared. We call upon all Hong Kong people to immediately come to protect our positions and fight to the end,” the group said in a statement.

They demanded the government hold someone responsible for the scuffles Friday, the worst disturbances since police used tear gas and pepper spray on protesters last weekend to try to disperse them.

Hundreds of people remained in the streets early Saturday in Mong Kok, one of Hong Kong’s busiest shopping areas, after the clashes.

“Of course I’m scared, but we have to stay and support everyone,” said Michael Yipu, 28, who works in a bank.

Well after midnight, the crowds stood peacefully, occasionally chanting and shouting, while police looked on.

The standoff is the biggest challenge to Beijing’s authority since it took over the former British colony in 1997. Earlier Friday, the students had agreed to talks with the government proposed by Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. But his attempt to defuse tensions fell flat as many protesters were unhappy with his refusal to yield their demands for his resignation.

Unclear if scuffles were organized

The cancellation of the talks — prompted by clashes with men who tried to tear down the makeshift barricades and tents set up by the demonstrators — left the next steps in the crisis uncertain.

It was unclear if those scuffles were spontaneous or had been organized, although some of the attackers wore blue ribbons signalling support for the mainland Chinese government, while the protesters have yellow ribbons. At least some of them were residents fed up with the inconvenience of blocked streets and closed shops, and were perhaps encouraged to take matters into their own hands by police calls for protesters to clear the streets.

Read More: CBC

{ 0 comments }

Tensions mount with #HongKongStudents resolve #scholarism

by Stephen Petrina on October 2, 2014

HKStudentsClashDay6

Wall Street Journal, China Real Time, October 3, 2014– Toward evening on the seventh day of protests that have rocked Hong Kong, fears grew of a confrontation. Protesters were giving the city’s chief executive until midnight to resign and said they would block him from going to work; police vowed to stop them. How the next hours played out; times are approximate:

5 p.m. Thursday: Crowds swell outside the offices of Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Photos on social media show police carrying supplies of rubber bullets and tear gas into the building.  Students block a van from entering the compound.

6 p.m. Police spokesman Steve Hui says police is prepared to take “resolute” measures.

7 p.m. Organizers tell people with children and pets to clear the area around the chief executive’s office and the adjacent People’s Liberation Army complex. Students start donning gas masks and goggles. “I’m afraid, just hoping for the best,” says student Ashley Yeung, 22, who was at the protest on Sunday when tear gas was fired into the crowd by riot police.

8 p.m. Student leader Joshua Wong pleads for calm on Twitter: “Those we oppose are crazy. We don’t want to be mad like them.”

9 p.m. The Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the student groups leading the protests, posts an open letter on Facebook to Carrie Lam, the No. 2 official in the Hong Kong government, seeking negotiations.

Some protesters near a PLA garrison on Hong Kong island block traffic but others try to stop them, “It’s the only road Hong Kong has!” shouts one woman through a loudspeaker.

10 p.m. Crowds are now huge at the government buildings. Police again warn protesters not to charge police lines.

11 p.m. As the midnight deadline protesters have set for Mr. Leung to resign approaches, the mood is apprehensive but crowds are orderly: They have heard Mr. Leung will speak and are waiting. Periodically chants erupt when student leaders speak.

11:30 p.m. The presidents of the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong appear at the government buildings to appeal for calm.

Midnight: The word from the chief executive mere minutes before midnight: He will appoint Ms. Lam, to meet with student protesters. He won’t resign.

Early morning hours Friday: Crowds start to disperse but many stay, saying they’re far from satisfied. “What they said was so distant from what we wanted,” says 26-year old Lawrence Chak, who still plans to spend the night with his friends at the main protest site.

The leaders of Occupy Central, two college professors and a Baptist minister, welcome talks between students and the government, but say the chief executive must still step down.

As many protesters sleep on the lawns and sidewalks, others sit with textbooks on their lap, trying to catch up with their studies after days of protesting.

5 a.m. Some protesters holding red traffic sticks try to prevent others from blocking the main roads outside the government buildings as morning nears and people start going to work after a two-day holiday.

Police plead for protesters to allow through a truck they say is loaded with food for police officers. Protesters shout back that they will pass the food in: “We can give you what you need–food, not the truck.”

8:30 a.m. The Hong Kong government says the city’s government offices will be temporarily closed.

9:30 a.m. Hong Kong stocks fall 1.2% as markets open after a two-day holiday and are down around 4.6% on the week, with crowds still in the street and many government workers unable to work normally.

Read More: Wall Street Journal, China Real Time

{ 0 comments }

Censorship of #HongKongStudents

by Stephen Petrina on October 2, 2014

20141004_CNC794

The Economist, October 3, 2014– Streets in Hong Kong have been filled with protesters calling for democratic reform and tweeting their experiences furiously. But in mainland China, people are struggling to discuss the unrest online. Censors have been poring over Weibo, China’s closely controlled version of Twitter, to scrub out even oblique references to it.

The chart above shows the number of deleted posts every day since April among a sample of between 50,000 and 60,000 users in mainland China. On September 28th, the most tumultuous day of the protests, deletions hit a record: 15 of every 1,000 posts, more than five times normal levels. Mentions of “Hong Kong police” and any posts with a #HongKong hashtag fell afoul of the censors. The data were compiled by Weiboscope, a censorship-monitoring programme at the University of Hong Kong. FreeWeibo, a website developed by GreatFire.org, another Chinese censorship watchdog, captured many of the deleted posts. Most were written by ordinary users: people with a few thousand followers whose non-censored messages revealed otherwise unexceptional lives, of dinners with family and frustrations with traffic jams.

Many clearly crossed the line of tolerated discussion in China. “Whoever obstructs Hong Kong’s decision will be branded a villain of history,” read one deleted post. Some were subtler: “Hong Kong’s streets are really clean,” read one post attached to a photo of protesters lying on the ground to sleep. It was reposted 12 times before being deleted. Others managed to get around the censors by being even more indirect, such as by posting old photos of Xi Jinping, China’s leader, carrying an umbrella (a nod to Hong Kong’s “umbrella revolution”).

The lid was lifted a little on September 29th when an article in the People’s Daily labelled the Hong Kong protesters as “extremists”. Bloggers then had licence to repost the article and publish their views on it. But these too were censored. The vast majority of comments that were allowed to remain online were critical of the protests. One post by Ren Chengwei, a television actor with more than 200,000 followers on Weibo, was typical: “Hong Kong compatriots, don’t make such a fuss. You’re going too far.”

{ 0 comments }

10,000 workers + #HongKongStudents #scholarism

by Stephen Petrina on October 1, 2014

Photo by Alex Ogle/Getty

Photo by Alex Ogle/Getty

Michelle Chen, The Nation, October 1, 2014–  The umbrella is a perfect icon for Hong Kong’s uprising: inclusive, aloof, a bit Anglophone and pragmatically defiant of the elements (and according to cinematic lore, readily convertible to a lethal kung fu weapon). It embodies the central plea of the protesters amassed in “Democracy Square”: a civilized demand for self-determination. Yet the biggest worry in Beijing right now isn’t the threat of universal suffrage, but what comes afterward—the struggle for social justice that Hong Kongers face they pivot between post-colonial limbo and authoritarian capitalism.

That’s the labor movement is taking to the streets with young protesters. The Equal Times reports that as of Wednesday—China’s National Day—“According to the latest HKCTU [Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions] figures, some 10,000 workers across all sectors have downed tools.” As unions representing industrial, service and professional workforces rallied alongside the youth and condemned police suppression of the demonstrators, Hong Kong labor echoed the former colony’s long legacy of worker militancy. In a call for mass strikes, the HKTCU declared, “Workers must stand up against the unjust government and violent suppression…. To defend democracy and justice, we cannot let the students fight the suppression alone.”

The immediate spark for the protests was the controversy over the electoral process. Activists were incensed that following Beijing’s decree via the proxy authority National People’s Congress, candidates for Hong Kong’s 2017 executive election would be pre-approved by the mainland authorities.

But even prior to the electoral betrayal, students revolted against the imposition of Beijing-controlled nationalist curricula on public schools. Longtime residents chafed at mainlanders’ perceived aggressive economic encroachment on local neighborhoods and businesses. And even the symbols of the protest express a yearning for a change in the social and cultural reality, rather than just liberalizing political mechanics. Like the “Hands Up” iconography of the Ferguson protests, the sea of umbrellas exude both civility and defiance in the face of brutality, not looking for trouble, just demanding dignity.

At the center of their struggle for dignity is the desire to control their economic destiny. A statement issued last week by dozens of labor and community groups draws the link between unaccountable government and the divide between the plutocracy and the people:

The Chinese Communist Party has followed and reinforced almost every governing strategy used by the British colonialists. Working in tandem, the CCP and business conglomerates have only worsened Hong Kong’s already alarming rich-poor gap. …

It is true that even a genuinely democratic system may not be able to bring immediate improvements to grassroots and workers’ livelihoods. However, the current political system and the NPC’s ruling are flagrant violations of our political rights as well as our right to be heard. A pseudo-democratic system will only install even more obstacles on our already difficult path to better livelihoods and a progressive society.

But the group’s demands go beyond electoral freedom: it wants expanded housing protections and welfare policies and a government that is responsive to the economic and social concerns raised by civil society groups. With this aspiration toward a fairer as well as freer society, according to City University of Hong Kong professor Toby Carroll, many leaders fear primarily that “people in Hong Kong will convert demands for increasing suffrage into robust demands for redistribution; that in the face of plenty, those with little or no positive prospects won’t stand for obscenely concentrated wealth, power and privilege anymore.”

As Eli Friedman points out, Hong Kong is both an amazingly sophisticated and intensely unequal economy, compared to other “developed” nations. One-fifth of the population lives in poverty. The minimum wage, just recently implemented at the rate of US $3.60, hardly offsets the astronomical costs of housing, inflation and unemployment. The former colonial trade hub has lost some 80 percent of its manufacturing jobs as industries have shifted to the mainland. The most impoverished are often migrant laborers, youths and women. The radicals at the core of #OccupyCentral represent twentysomethings who are tired of the volatility of the economy and the stagnation of the country’s political system.

Read Moore: The Nation

{ 0 comments }

hk-protests-web

Lily Kuo, Quartz, September 30, 2014– While tens of thousands of students continue to paralyze Hong Kong’s financial and commercial districts for a third day to demand free elections, across Victoria harbor in Kowloon the pro-democracy movement is starting to look a little different. In Mong Kok, a dense working class neighborhood, demonstrators are older, quieter, and in some ways, a little more cynical.

“The politics here are so bad. That’s why we have to fight for democracy,” 78-year old Li Kon-wah tells Quartz. Li says Hong Kong’s top official, the chief executive CY Leung answers only to Beijing, a government that he remembers most for having ordered a violent crackdown on nonviolent democracy protesters in 1989. “I was so angry. I cried,” he says, after carefully taping a sign onto a nearby bus that reads, “Blood bath Tiananmen Massacre.”

What started as a pro-democracy movement mainly among the city youth—sparked by student activists as well as another pro-democracy group, Occupy Hong Kong—is starting to capture a broad cross-section of the city’s population of seven million. The majority of these residents initially opposed Occupy’s strategy—to disrupt the city’s economy and force the government to withdraw electoral reforms that give Hong Kongers direct elections in 2017 but allows Beijing the ability to vet candidates for the city’s top office.

Now, news reports and footage of police clashing with students, as well as tear gassing or pepper spraying them, have brought more people into the streets. In Mong Kok, thousands of demonstrators, including students, retired local residents, and workers have overtaken Nathan Road, a main thoroughfare. They are decorating streets with chalk drawings of umbrellas—the latest symbol for the demonstrations—and plastering signs on a row of buses that had to be abandoned when drivers couldn’t move in crowds that descended on the street late Sunday.

 Elderly demonstrators like Li mill around the area listening to speeches, handing out yellow ribbons and leaflets. Another retiree, Chan Kin-hoi, 76, wears a hat with a sign that reads, “Oppose the communist party, save Hong Kong.” Chan says: “I’m here because I support universal suffrage.” Local workers, like delivery drivers have volunteered to bring goods to demonstrators.
Young and middle-aged professionals are also joining the protests during work breaks or after work. Grace Fu, 22, who works at an office nearby, is under no illusion that the protesters’ demands will be met. Chief executive Leung said again today the government will not change its stance on how Hong Kong elections will be run, despite the spread of “illegal” protests.
 But, says Fu, “Even if this movement doesn’t change anything, it’s good that people can now know what’s going on in Hong Kong. That would still be worth it.”
Read More: Quartz

{ 0 comments }

tamar-oct1-sam-bOccupy Central

Yojana Sharma, University World News, September 30, 2014– Hong Kong university students – part of a huge, often spontaneous pro-democracy movement that has occupied the streets of central Hong Kong in recent days – said on Monday that they would extend their week-long boycott of classes to an indefinite one. 

“We urge students to boycott classes indefinitely and teachers to boycott teaching,” said the statement by Hong Kong University Students’ Union and Scholarism and other groups.

The week-long university strike that started on 22 September with rallies around the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, or CUHK, before spreading to central Hong Kong was to have ended on Friday 26 September with school-age students led by the campaign group Scholarism joining the strike for its final day. 

Instead, huge crowds surged onto the streets at the weekend and into Monday, blocking major roads. The students and public were angry about police tactics and dozens of arrests made outside Hong Kong government headquarters, where students broke through the police cordon to occupy the area late on Friday night.

The one-week class boycott has been extended because of “violence by the police force”, said the Hong Kong Federation of Students, or HKFS, which has 60,000 members and is one of the student boycott’s largest organisers.

The boycott had been called after China last month insisted that candidates for a promised Hong Kong leadership election in 2017 would be pre-selected by representatives of China, angering pro-democracy groups. Young people are demanding genuine democracy. 

HKFS and Scholarism warned that civil disobedience would spread unless Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung responds to protesters’ demands by 1 October. Possible action includes a general strike, and more class boycotts, they said. 

Occupy Central co-founder Chan Kin-man said that if Leung announced his resignation, the occupation of the key areas in Hong Kong would stop for a short period of time before they decide on their next move.

But Leung said in a press conference on Tuesday that he would not give in to demands for his resignation. Any such action before ‘universal suffrage’ was implemented would mean Hong Kong picking a new leader under the existing system.

Arrests

The protests escalated after pro-democracy legislators, professors and student leaders were arrested during the police action at the government offices on Saturday morning, among them Alex Chow and Lester Shum, leaders of HKFS, three Hong Kong legislators and the convener of the Alliance for True Democracy, Joseph Cheng, a political science professor at Hong Kong’s City University. 

Thousands poured onto Hong Kong’s main arteries demanding their release – in particular the release of Joshua Wong, 17, leader of Scholarism, a group of high-school students. Yvonne Leung, president of the Hong Kong University’s student union told media that Wong had been dragged away by police on Saturday morning. 

Michael Davis, a professor of law at Hong Kong University, or HKU, said: “The legitimacy of the Hong Kong government is at stake and they certainly undermined their position by [tear] gassing students on the streets.

“That kind of aggressive behaviour, I think, stimulated almost half the protesters to come out,” he told local radio, describing it as a critical moment for the Hong Kong government. “They really need to be trying to do something to represent Hong Kong concerns and not just Beijing concerns.”

While Wong was held for 40 hours – the maximum allowed under Hong Kong law without charges being laid – the crowds on the streets mushroomed to over 80,000, according to HKFS estimates, with police unsuccessfully attempting to disperse them with pepper spray and teargas. 

“I don’t think they [Beijing] will listen to our demands, but I am angry that the Hong Kong police treat us in this way, that is why I am here,” said a HKU law student who gave her name only as Grace. She said she had not taken part in the initial student boycotts though she had joined pro-democracy rallies through the streets of Hong Kong in early July.  

While police refused to answer many questions at a press conference, they said teargas was used 87 times at nine different locations on Saturday and Sunday. 

While many protesters had come prepared with goggles and face masks, most had only their umbrellas to protect them, leading to the protests being dubbed the ‘umbrella revolution’.

More than 70 people were arrested during clashes with police outside the government headquarters over the weekend, with CUHK offering legal advice to students who were arrested. HKU estimated that least 10 of its students were arrested and said it would provide legal advice and other support to the students. 

In a statement, HKU’s Vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson said: “We will be flexible and reasonable in understanding the actions of students and staff who wish to express their strongly-held views.”

He added a plea for all parties to express their views peacefully and constructively. “We will also be flexible in understanding practical difficulties that staff and students may face in reaching the campus during periods of transport disruption,” the statement said. 

Refusal to back down

Despite a major escalation in the protests, Chief Executive Leung – who had refused to meet with students to consider their demands – said at a press conference on Sunday that the Hong Kong government was “resolute in opposing the unlawful occupation of government buildings”. He reiterated that the Hong Kong government would uphold Beijing’s decision on elections. 

A Hong Kong government statement on Sunday said the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, or China’s one-party parliament on Hong Kong’s elections, was “legally binding”. 

Consultations on the Hong Kong election system had been scheduled to take place but the administration announced that these would now be held at a “better time” – a move that Occupy Central slammed as a delaying tactic. The administration was “just hoping people’s desire for genuine universal suffrage to fade over time”.

Leung issued a video-statement addressing Hong Kong citizens. He called on people to leave the protests, and dismissed rumours that police had opened fire or that the government was ready to call on China’s People’s Liberation Army to maintain order.

Commentary in the online edition of China’s communist party newspaper the People’s Daily blamed the unrest in Hong Kong on “extremists” backed by “foreign anti-China forces”. Pictures and reports of the Hong Kong unrest has been censored in China.

Read More: University World News

{ 0 comments }

#scholarism #youth in #HongKongStudents protest #occupyallstreet

by Stephen Petrina on September 30, 2014

Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty

Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty

Wilfred Chan & Yuli Yang, CNNHong Kong (CNN), September 28, 2014– He’s one of the fieriest political activists in Hong Kong — he’s been called an “extremist” by China’s state-run media — and he’s not even old enough to drive.

Meet 17-year-old Joshua Wong, a skinny, bespectacled teen whose meager physical frame belies the ferocity of his politics. Over the last two years, the student has built a pro-democracy youth movement in Hong Kong that one veteran Chinese dissident says is just as significant as the student protests at Tiananmen, 25 years ago.

Echoing the young campaigners who flooded Beijing’s central square in 1989, the teen activist wants to ignite a wave of civil disobedience among Hong Kong’s students. His goal? To pressure China into giving Hong Kong full universal suffrage.

Wong’s movement builds on years of pent-up frustration in Hong Kong.

When the former colony of the United Kingdom was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, the two countries struck an agreement promising Hong Kong a “high degree of autonomy,” including the democratic election of its own leader. But 17 years later, little resembling genuine democracy has materialized. China’s latest proposal suggests Hong Kongers may vote for their next leader, but only if the candidates are approved by Beijing.

Hong Kong is a seed of fire… the Communist Party is very scared of this tiny bit of land.

Wong is bent on fighting the proposal — and impatient to win.

“I don’t think our battle is going to be very long,” he tells CNN. “If you have the mentality that striving for democracy is a long, drawn-out war and you take it slowly, you will never achieve it.

“You have to see every battle as possibly the final battle — only then will you have the determination to fight.”

Youth awakening

Doubt him if you like, but the young activist already has a successful track record of opposition.

In 2011, Wong, then 15, became disgusted with a proposal to introduce patriotic, pro-Communist “National and Moral Education” into Hong Kong’s public schools.

With the help of a few friends, Wong started a student protest group called Scholarism. The movement swelled beyond his wildest dreams: In September 2012, Scholarism successfully rallied 120,000 protesters — including 13 young hunger strikers — to occupy the Hong Kong government headquarters, forcing the city’s beleaguered leaders to withdraw the proposed curriculum.

That was when Wong realized that Hong Kong’s youth held significant power.

“Five years ago, it was inconceivable that Hong Kong students would care about politics at all,” he says. “But there was an awakening when the national education issue happened. We all started to care about politics.”

Asked what he considers to be the biggest threats to the city, he rattles them off: From declining press freedom as news outlets change their reporting to reflect a pro-Beijing slant, to “nepotism” as Beijing-friendly politicians win top posts, the 17-year-old student says Hong Kong is quickly becoming “no different than any other Chinese city under central administration.”

That’s why Wong has set his eyes on achieving universal suffrage. His group, which now has around 300 student members, has become one of the city’s most vocal voices for democracy. And the kids are being taken seriously.

In June, Scholarism drafted a plan to reform Hong Kong’s election system, which won the support of nearly one-third of voters in an unofficial citywide referendum.

Joshua Wong could be arrested, or jailed. I hope he understands this will be a battle of resilience.
Hu Jia, Chinese dissident

In July, the group staged a mass sit-in which drew a warning from China’s vice president not to disrupt the “stability” of the city. In the end, 511 people were briefly arrested.

This week, the group is mobilizing students to walk out of classes — a significant move in a city that reveres education — to send a pro-democracy message to Beijing.

The student strike has received widespread support. College administrators and faculty have pledged leniency on students who skip classes, and Hong Kong’s largest teacher union has circulated a petition declaring “Don’t let striking students stand alone.”

China’s reaction has been the opposite: Scholarism has been named a group of “extremists” in the mainland’s state-run media. Wong also says he is mentioned by name in China’s Blue Paper on National Security, which identifies internal threats to the stability of Communist Party rule.

But the teenage activist won’t back down. “People should not be afraid of their government,” he says, quoting the movie “V for Vendetta,” “The government should be afraid of their people.”

Compared to activists in Hong Kong, activists in mainland China face a situation far more grim.

Few understand this better than veteran human rights activist Hu Jia, 41. A teenage participant in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, he remembers witnessing the carnage in the aftermath of Chinese government’s crackdown.

“At the age of 15, it made me understand my responsibility and my mission in life,” he tells CNN in a phone call from Beijing. “The crackdown made a clear cut between myself and the system.”

Tiananmen protester: I was willing to die

Read More: CNN

{ 0 comments }