I’ve had so many concerned friends from around the world recently message me, concerned for my safety in Hong Kong. This post is to show my dear friends, and those from around the world what its actually like here in Hong Kong at this moment.
For anyone that doesnt understand what is going on, very quickly is that after the 1997 handover of HK from British rule to China it was promised that 2017 HK would be allowed a democratic vote of its own leader. However in August it was announced from Beijing that yes the 5 million eligible voters would be able to vote for their own leader, BUT from a preapproved pool of candidates picked by Beijing. This meant that these candidates would most likely be pro China. HK has been promised a special administrative region status, One country Two systems. The people of HK saw this as a betrayal and not a true democracy as promised, as was their right.
The student movement to protest for this cause, to get the same democracy that we so luckily have in the West began last week, and over the weekend were joined by Occupy Central. It must be noted that they are two groups, but fighting for the same cause basically. Everyone wanted this outcome of a true democratic vote by peaceful means. No one protesting damaged any property, set any cars on fire, nor had weapons. What made this escalate so greatly was when the HK police fired tear gas and began pepper spraying everyone. The people of HK (unlike China) have a right to protest in public, and allowed this freedom of speech. There was no reason for the police to use violence, to resort to pepper spraying, shooting rubber bullets into the crowd. It must be noted though, that not all the police are horrid, and that they do have to follow orders from above as that is their job, but I believe there should have been better ways to handle the situation. So nonetheless, these are some main points of what turned this into Hong Kong biggest protest in decades, and being compared to 1989 Tiananmen. This is the Umbrella Revolution.
Why is it called Umbrella Revolution? One, it is a mix because HK weather is in typhoon season and it often rains, so having an umbrella is crucial. However, when police used pepper spray, the same umbrellas were used by the protestors to shield themselves, and the day afterwards in the scorching hear these umbrellas were used to protect from the sun. Hence the cheeky name Umbrella Revolution.
Today I got a chance to go down there and see for myself what it was like. From the news coverage around the world that I had seen, it seemed like it was utter massacre and destruction in Central. No wonder people were worried. The looped videos of police pepper spraying the old, the screaming and outcries of the people as police force came upon them. So at 4pm when I wandered into the streets of central (note that buses and public transportation dont go that far off, and all highways are now occupied by protesters) expecting the worst. However was I greatly mistaken. This was the most moving peaceful protest I had ever seen. Within steps of reaching the protest areas people came up and asked us if we needed any water, water stations set up area, food stations, makeshift first aid station (no one injured was there), and people peacefully gathered in all areas. Majority of which were students, just sitting around, talking to each other, on their phones, and even studying for exams!
Let me take you through this photo journey so you have a real understanding of what its like in this protest.
Streets in Admiralty begin to be blocked. No cars and traffic can come through. Even tunnels were blocked by these barricades.
Lets not forget this is Central Hong Kong, one of the major business hubs of the world.. on a standstill.
A lot of students sitting on the main highway.
The students organized plenty of water stations so everyone could stay hydrated. Hong Kong is still pretty damn hot right now.
Umbrellas for anyone who would need them, especially if those who were deciding to go to the front line if anything were to get rough again.
Pop up first aid tents. Even Red Cross Hong Kong who’s office was by the protest site had opened up its door for first aid help.
Signs like this could be seen everywhere. Even in other languages.
Yellow ribbons were given out to show the support and fight for democracy. Also note that blue ribbons (not as commonly scene on site) are handed out or used on facebook profiles to show the support for the police.
Bin areas to help keep the streets clean. Volunteers, the students would go around with these bags to help clean up any trash left behind.
Supply stations. Everyone understood that you take only what was needed.
And the crowd begins to form in Admiralty. Also it is interesting to note that once you get to the center of it, data is cut off, I dont know if its a mere coincidence that at that time there are too many people, but I wasnt able to send any messages to family in China. According to my relatives the chinese media wasnt covering much on these protests. go figure eh?
And a lot of signs to try and showcase their emotions and voices
And again, this is how organized it is. Recycling separation stations.
Tired protesters on the sides of the highways.
This guy here was handing out cooling pads that people put over their foreheads to fight the heat.
Yellow ribbons tied to the gates of the Central Government Office where a lot of the protests have centralized.
Umbrellas that have served its purpose
These protests have been chanting for a change through peaceful non violent means. Everywhere you can see that its asking people to not be violent, there are signs even that say DO NOT GRAFFITI. They are not doing anything wrong. They have the right to protest in public spaces. The atmosphere is amazing, and so moving. To see this many people come together to fight for a cause and fighting for their future, through non violent means. They want their voices to be heard. They want the world to know that they just want to same kind of democracy that we take for granted.
Even as it began to be dark, there were no signs of these guys going anywhere.
Its hard to tell in the picture, but we did end up getting caught up in a very short freak rainstorm. Umbrellas started coming out, and while we didnt have any umbrellas with us, all the people around us sheltered us with theirs and quickly gave us garbage bags to protect ourselves and tissues to dry ourselves. All they said was “Thank you for supporting us!”
And as night fell, Hong Kong being a city of smartphones, everyone took them out and in unison and shone their lights. It was surreal to see, everywhere as far as the eye could reach were these bright specs of lights, waving in the air, and chants of “jia you” (direct translation add oil, or meaning best of luck or keep going) and “Hong Kong” could be heard. Cheers, chants, singing continued. I’ve never been in a place that was so orderly and peaceful even when protesting, yes the media has shown the rioting and tear gases, but for the other 90% of the time, its just people gathered wanting the goverment to feel the pressure that they cant be denied their rights, and showing that people coming together do have power and influence. I dont know what Beijing will do. In my opinion, they are in a hard place because the entire world is watching their move and for them give HK exactly what they want shows that they are losing power and let a protest overrule them, meaning next time people will just protest again. And Beijing cant have that. They need to maintain their power. CY Leung is feeling the pressure. The Chief Executive of Hong Kong. His is a name people wont forget. But not for the better. The numbers 689 can be seen, showing the number of votes that he had received. I think that despite what happens, because I truly dont know what will, Hong Kong now has the world watching, showing that they cant be stepped on and they will fight for their rights. And that in itself is a success. So dear friends, theres no danger. Take what media shows with a grain of salt. Its just majority of students, the feared upon millenials stretching their wings.
This is the city that I live in. This is the city that is fighting for democracy. This is the city that wants to be heard. This is the city fighting for their voices to be heard. This is the Umbrella Revolution. This is Hong Kong.