The Umbrella Revolution

Being a Hongkonger and all, I’d been very aware of the peaceful protests that are currently happening in Hong Kong, so I went a couple of days ago to take part. For those of you who don’t know what the protests are about; China has recently said that they would be the ones selecting who we are allowed to vote for in the 2017 elections for Chief Executive. Democracy is about the people’s freedom of speech, and we are supposed to have the freedom to choose who we want as our next leader.

IMG_7890However, now that China is doing the choosing for us, it’s not a democracy anymore – in order to reinforce China’s grip on Hong Kong, they are bound to choose pro-Chinese candidates who will do China’s bidding instead of listening to Hong Kong citizens. This is why many people have taken to the streets to protest for our right to democracy.

Anyway, when I got to Central I was taken aback at how quiet it seemed – the traffic lights were still flashing as usual, but the ringing sounds echoed through what was supposed to be the busiest part of the city. It was eerily quiet, like a ghost town. As we foraged through, I started noticing yellow ribbons everywhere; on street signs, railings, postboxes, even on shop doors and on the floors. As I passed by, I saw lines of fences on the street, knotted at each interval with yellow ribbons, fluttering joyfully in the breeze against the grey, lifeless background of commercial buildings and dusty pavement.

As I foraged through the throngs of people gathered at the government headquarters and in the heart of Central, I noticed IMG_7950that there were a lot of supplies stations, free umbrellas, first-aid tents, and recycling stations (where you could recycle your litter and plastic bottles). Students were walking around, making sure that everyone was okay and handing out free supplies; food, water, face masks, band-aids, and even fever patches to place on your foreheads. They even had emergency packs (zau lou bao), which were essentially white plastic bags (shown in picture) consisting of face masks, cling wrap (for eye protection), food, and water to wash your eyes whenever the police use pepper spray and tear gas. The students had thought of everything.

There were gaps between the concrete separators on the highway, and these were used as entrances. Each was manned by a group of students who had rigged the fairly high gaps with old planks, and aided people across. They developed the system so that people could take turns entering and exiting by allocating one minute for each direction. On the other side of the waist-high gap, somebody had found a fence and tied one side of it to the concrete with towels and carefully secured plastic holders to create a makeshift ladder that was surprisingly sturdy and effective.

IMG_2513That concludes my account of the protests, and I was thoroughly amazed at how thoughtful, polite and considerate all the people were – and the atmosphere was not tense or angry but peaceful and hopeful instead. Protesters were even leaving notes of apology saying “sorry for the inconvenience” everywhere. Seeing how the students have achieved this, how much attention to detail has been paid to ensure that they do not leave a mess behind, and how determined everyone is to ensure that Hong Kong gets to vote for our leaders without China’s influence makes me p to be a Hong Konger.

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