Solidarity with Hong Kong Democracy Protests

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Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Workers, socialists and activists around the world stand in solidarity with your heroic struggle against the government’s anti-democratic extradition bill. We are watching your struggle and support it. You are not alone!

Following the magnificent million-strong demonstration of June 9, the Hong Kong government, acting on behalf of big business and the Chinese dictatorship, stepped up police repression of the movement, using tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam disgracefully attacked the demonstrations as “organized riots”. But the working people of Hong Kong are not backing down, as June 16 saw two million taking to the streets, the biggest demonstration in Hong Kong history.

During this struggle, the need for strike action has been taken up by important sections of the movement, including teachers, social workers, bus workers, and students. This demand is vital. Working people in Hong Kong have the power to change society by withdrawing their labor. While the government can ignore even the biggest demonstrations, when the economy stops and working people show they are the real power in society this is a much greater challenge to the government’s rule. A Hong Kong-wide political strike could bring down the Carrie Lam government and have echoes around the world and across China.

In 2015, China’s president Xi Jinping visited Seattle to meet with representatives of big business such as Uber, Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, IBM, Cisco, Dow Chemical, DuPont, GM, Pepsi and Berkshire Hathaway. While the Seattle political and business establishment welcomed Xi with open arms, I, along with representatives from the Seattle labor movement, wrote an open letter to Xi. We protested the Chinese state’s systematic violation of democratic rights, human rights in general, and workers’ rights in particular. And we expressed our solidarity with workers’ struggles in China, declaring:

“We stand in solidarity with the workers of China in their struggle for democratic rights, including the right to organize in independent trade unions. Multinational corporations exploiting the present sweatshop conditions in China, enforced by your government, will be confronted with our opposition and resistance.”

The Chinese regime and its Hong Kong puppet government are now stumbling into multiple crises. Their strategy when challenged is to become even more hardline. They gave the order to Carrie Lam to “suspend” the hated extradition law, hoping this would defuse the mass protests but Hong Kong people are even more angry and distrustful and the movement refused to demobilize. Too many promises have been broken, too many fake concessions have been cancelled out at a later date. We support the protest movement’s demands that Carrie Lam’s government must go! The extradition law must be retracted completely. The outrageous accusation of “riot” which can lead to ten years in prison must be withdrawn. The stage is set for more and possibly even bigger protests. Explosive tensions are therefore building in Hong Kong and in China. This makes it all the more important that the Hong Kong mass struggle actively link up with the mass discontent rumbling beneath the dictatorships’ foundations in China. This especially applies to the emerging workers’ movement in China, such as the struggle of the Jasic Technology workers, which is facing even more ruthless repression, but has shown incredible heroism and strength.

Workers around the world look with inspiration to your struggle in Hong Kong. We look to this struggle as we look to the revolutionary uprisings in Sudan and Algeria, and the general strike in Brazil. We will to raise awareness about your inspiring actions.

In solidarity,

Kshama Sawant

Seattle City Councilmember