The meaning of re-provoking 721 | Lee Yee

2020.08.28
The meaning of re provoking 721 Lee Yee

LIHKG forum started a thread titled “Congratulations to the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) for Raising Global Awareness Again for the Jul. 21 incident (721).” There were continuous comments on the thread that linked to international media reports on the HKPF’s various deliberate misrepresentations. Many social media were also swept by a flood of all the videos previously published since 721: live broadcasts, subsequent comprehensive reports including Hong Kong Connection’s “721 Yuen Long Nightmare” which had 8.32 million views in just over five months since the clip was published, and “Truth of 721” which had over 1.3 million views since its upload last month. The large amount of visual media trending on social media is the explosion of citizens actions to challenge the copious amount of lies.

The biggest effect of HKPF re-provoking 721 is to let those Hongkongers, especially foreigners, whose memories of the incident have faded, to remember it again. How can people believe the fabricated lies when they once again witness the scenes and listen to the people who lived through it recount the experience? In that case, what is the purpose of reviving people’s memory? Surely it is not because the trust score of Carrie Lam’s regime is not low enough?

Hong Kong has realized the words of the Russian author and dissident, Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, of whom I once quoted: “We know they are lying. They know they are lying. They also know that we know they are lying. We also know that they know that we know they are lying. But they are still lying.”

A reader asked me the source of this quotation but I could not find it. It was only based on the Internet, nevertheless it is fantastic. Solzhenitsyn had written so many articles on deception and the authoritarian regime so it is possible that he had said it just once during a conversation. Another Russian writer, Elena Gorokhova, said something similar in a book published in 2010: “The rules are simple: they deceive us, we know they are lying, they know that we know they are lying, but they keep on lying to us, and we keep on pretending to believe them.” The significance of re-provoking 721 is spelled out in these two passages.

Why are they still lying when they know that we know that they are lying? This is because, under the tyranny of totalitarianism, the fabrication of lies is not to make the people believe but to make one’s case sound plausible when justifying with the superior. 721 was a defining moment in the timeline of the anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill (anti-ELAB) movement that reversed the perception of the people of Hong Kong and the international community towards the HKPF and HKSAR government. In other words, after the incident, the image of the HKPF tumbled from the protector of the people to a tool of tyranny. Therefore, the distortion of facts is not for the people to believe but to let their “own people” including their superiors to “pretend to believe” so as to maintain the “legitimacy pretense.”

Another implication of re-provoking this incident is that the behavior of lying even when knowingly they cannot deceive proves the existing regime is a true tyranny.

Solzhenitsyn said, “Tyranny finds its only refuge in falsehood and falsehood in tyranny finds its only support.” “Tyranny must be interwoven with falsehood. Between them, they have the closest and deepest natural union.” Because of this intimate natural bonding, in the presence of deceptions regardless of whether people will believe it or not, it is tantamount to proclaiming the existence of tyranny.

The significance of re-provoking this incident is threefold. It also illustrates the greatest crisis in Hong Kong. It is not those in power and the pro-Beijing camp pretending to believe in the distorted facts, but that the increasing number of Hongkongers willing to tolerate the lies and also pretending that the stag is a horse. The Czech dissident writer and former President of Czechoslovakia, Václav Havel said that when people “have to acquiesce, endure and drift along with the lies, then every person can only survive in lies. People do not need to accept lies, it is enough that they endure a life of living in and with lies. In this way, people validate, perfect, create and become this system.”

The Chinese have “become this system.” Hongkongers must not only protect the truth, but also be wary of themselves and the people around them to not pretend to believe in lies and not participate in distorting facts for personal gain. Solzhenitsyn said, “If we are fearful even to detach from the participation of lying, then we are worthless and hopeless.” The sarcasm of Russian writer, Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, is most applicable to us: “Why give animals freedom? Their fate is to be bound by chains and flogged with whips, generation after generation!”

Hongkongers must take heed of this heart-wrenching remark!

(Lee Yee, a prominent political commentator in Hong Kong who embarked on a career of writing and subediting in 1956, has been contributing unremittingly political commentaries to the local press.)

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