Pandora's Box

The trivialization of violence in Hong Kong is a very bad sign. What started by seducing the world as a peaceful, civic, mass movement of just opposition to the proposed extradition law - and resulting in a "half-hearted" suspension of legislation - evolved into the biggest crisis since the 1967riots.

The vicious cycle of violence has been normalized. And the distancing and rationality in the discussion of what is at stake has become rather rare in social networks and public debate. No wonder. Over the course of these weeks the opened demons of violence, intolerance, irrationality and social breakdown have come out of this Pandora"s Box.

Red lines were crossed one after the other on the various sides in question in an uncontrollable dynamic of self-fulfilling prophecies.

It is still vivid in our memory the peaceful and utterly civic demonstrations that brought hundreds of thousands to the streets of Hong Kong on June 9 and 16, first, and most recently on July 1 and 21. Unfortunately, what happened on June 12, first, and then in several protests, starting with the regrettable invasion and vandalism of the Legislative Council by a more radical small group of young people, was substantially different from both the side of protesters and police. The move by some key politicians and activists in the pro-democracy camp of condoning or, in some cases, throwing a veiled support to the acts of vandalismo (no, it was not merely a symbolic occupation) was wrong and a mistake. The same applies to what happened at the Liaison Office last Sunday.

The anti-China feeling that prevails in a more radical part of the movement has had unaceptable situations translated into an almost nihilistic vertigo for violence and defacing of regional and state symbols. On the other hand, excessive use of force by the police and attacks on journalists, properly identified, are other black pages in this film noir.

But even more intolerable and shocking was what happened on Sunday night with the indiscriminate assault of alleged white-clad triads on protesters, journalists and passengers at the Yuen Long MTR station. The incident, which cannot go unpunished, opened a new and deeper wound signaling the authorities' inability to protect defenseless citizens. There are demons on the loose in this minefield. It is crucial to get them back to the box quickly, otherwise it will be too late.