Vital Signs: Hong Kong Defies Jackie Chan; Global Demonstrations to End VAW

Ben Lorber

Protests Against Sexual Violence Spread: Mass demonstrations continued across India following the rape and torture of a 23-year-old student on December 16. Mass demonstrations broke out after the victim died of her wounds on December 29, and many New Year’s celebrations were cancelled. Five men have now been charged with the attack, but organizers are continuing to push broader demands related to women’s rights, and the protests are now spreading across South Asia.

Meanwhile, for the first time since 1994, Congress failed at year’s end to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which funded the investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposed mandatory restitution on convicts, and allowed unprosecuted cases to be taken to civil court. 

Hong Kong Defies Jackie Chan: On January 1, over 100,000 people marched in Hong Kong, demanding the resignation of the city’s leader, Leung Chun-ying. Allegations that he lied about illegal renovations at his mansion have led to wider condemnations of what demonstrators call his undemocratic and elitist rule. Since Britain returned the island to China in 1997, Hong Kong has enjoyed Western-style civil liberties that many say are threatened by Leung’s close ties to China’s leaders. 2,500 protesters blocked roads in Hong Kong, while thousands of other Hong Kongers joined a rival march in support of Leung. 
The demonstration followed a controversial statement by Hong Kong native Jackie Chan last month denouncing disruptive demonstrations and suggesting that there should be regulations on what can and cannot be protested.”

Zapatistas Return: On December 31, 2012, thousands of families and supporters gathered throughout Zapatista territory in Chiapas, Mexico to celebrate the 19th anniversary of the EZLN’s liberation movement. The political-cultural festivals, many of which lasted until dawn, follow in the wake of the largest coordinated nonviolent mobilization in the history of the Zapatista movement December 21, when over 50,000 Zapatistas marched in silence through the streets of 5 Chiapas cities. On December 30, the Zapatistas released a communique affirming the success of their nearly 2-decades old movement and criticizing the new regime of President Enrique Peña Nieto. 

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BEN LORBER works as senior research analyst at Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank monitoring right-wing movements, where he focuses on white nationalism and antisemitism. His book Safety through Solidarity: A Radical Guide to Fighting Antisemitism will be released in 2024 with Melville House Books.

Democratic Rep. Summer Lee, who at the time was a candidate for the state House, at a demonstration in Pittsburgh for Antwon Rose, who was killed by police, in 2018. Lee recently defeated her 2024 primary challenger.
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