So I'm a bit miffed about that.
weileen02 said: 呸！！！你们在传播恐怖！！乱贼党子！！😭😭😭
I apologize that I can’t respond in Chinese. English is my native language (I grew up in ESF and International schools) so my Chinese literacy is embarrassingly low.
But I have to respond to you because no, I am not trying to spread fear and cause chaos. NOBODY in Hong Kong is.
I was living in downtown Toronto during the G20 Summit back in 2010. That had a protest too, a march that started off as peaceful but then was selfishly undermined by a small but vicious group of people who, nearing the end of the march, broke out of the protesters to begin vandalizing the shops around them. I lived very close to the area which was College and Yonge - I was at Bay and Wellesley. There was glass on the ground and people fleeing in confusion. Later that night, I was even sent a photo of a police car set on fire. Those masked hooligans never wanted change or discussion, they wanted an excuse for malice and sacrificed the hopes of many for the petty thrill of damaging somebody’s workplace. I hope you can understand my sheer disgust for people like that.
Hong Kong protests are NOT like this. These people have had almost two decades (and arguably more, if you count all the strikes and boycotts we have performed since even the 1880s) to perfect the art of protesting, and I am proud to say that they have displayed the finest and most honourable behaviour I have ever seen during a crisis. Not a single window has been smashed, no bystanders were inured, and the first order of business when the tear gas came out was to set up first aid centres and get everyone to safety. My phone and Facebook last night were floods of concern and advice telling people where to go and what to do. All my friends who were out in Admiralty made it home (or at least, to the APA).
Hong Kongers detest violence. We learnt years ago in the 1967 riots that we really hate it when safety and stability gets disrupted in our daily lives. (Heck, anyone looking at my Facebook would assume that my entire life consists of being irritated on the MTR.) We see absolutely no excitement or attractiveness in resorting to underhanded and hurtful tactics. Hong Kongers protest because they love each other and their city. They protest because they hate it when safety and stability gets disrupted in their daily lives - they want to continue living in the home they love with the rights of speech, press, and vote.
There was panic and disorder last night because of the disproportionate use of force that the Hong Kong Police was ordered to lay upon the peaceful protesters. Yes, I use ordered to because I understand that they are also Hong Kongers who probably hate it when safety and stability gets disrupted in our daily lives.
I see from your blog, weilleen02, that you seem to be getting your information from Weibo. Unfortunately, that beautiful mainland censorship is now in full force, including Instagram and Xinhua. I do not mean to say that you don’t deserve to say your opinion - another friend of mine made a status on Facebook saying that she was disappointed in the protests because she felt that it was “sacrificing economical/political stability [see, I told you!] for a little more democracy”. Although I believe that she is not seeing the full scope as well as the fact that the only reason why our politics is “stable” is because it is rigged from the start, I do deeply admire her bravery to be a voice of dissent in the midst of the emotionally-charged rambles and rants. And I also deeply admire her for being willing to have a civil and very thoughtful discussion about it afterwards.
So this I promise you: there is no chaos. The riot police (who, by the way, were also armed with rubber bullet-loaded guns though I do not know whether they ever resorted to them) have been pulled from the streets, and even more people have poured out to support the students and protesters. What is happening now is that they are staying in place - 3000 in Mong Kok, 1000 or so in Causeway Bay, and I don’t even know how many in Admiralty who have been standing strong since Saturday. When I asked my friend in Causeway Bay if there was anything I could bring to him, he told me that there was an abundance of food and it was like “a giant picnic”. They are still preparing umbrellas and masks in case of another round of tear gas later, but as far as I know, most are optimistic. This is what they planned. Nobody wants our economy to be down for long, so the hope and goal is that the protesters will NOT have to sit on the street forever and positive change will come on swifter feet!
This is not something they are doing on a whim; things have been building up for years. There was Article 23 in 2002 that threatened freedom of press and speech, sparking the first intense July 1 march, up to 10 years later when people were alarmed at the concept of “patriotism classes” - which to me is not so much the idea of being told to embrace China, but the attempt at erasing Hong Kong identity and culture, a complicated but fascinating thing just barely 60 years old and growing in our hearts with every second of these protests. People just want to be themselves - Hong Kongers. It is not an insult when I say to you that we are not just another Chinese city - we are our own certain style of Chinese city, and we wish you guys, our kin, would accept us for who we are.
When I posted that picture, I meant it. My heart and mind were under a lot of stress, fear, and pain at knowing what was happening around me, so I couldn’t keep calm. I was not fighting or shouting or being aggressive in any way, but I did not sleep well and paced up and down my apartment. As I thought about of all the different ways the PRC has tried, whether in a blatant or subtle fashion, to suppress the history, culture and identity of Hong Kong, I felt that this city was in danger of dying. It brought back the old fear that one day, I’ll be so behooved to pack up my belongings and leave my home for some other place, probably Toronto again, and know that I can’t go back for the sadness and alienation that will betray me.
All this being said, I am now prepared to dress in black with a yellow ribbon in my hair to join Jon and many others in Causeway Bay tomorrow afternoon. I am not a brave person so I am not skipping work (I’m a teacher so I would feel ashamed at abandoning my kids) and might not even stay very long. But when Hong Kongers band together like this, with such dignity and honour, in PEACE and LOVE, I am filled with pride and inspiration. To spend even just an hour with them and drawing energy off these unified people will be blessing enough.
Thank you, weileen02, for convincing me to finally act, all the while I was trying to convince you.
PLEASE HELP US: SPREAD THIS SHIT LIKE WILDFIRE
Starting on Monday, thousands of university students in Hong Kong have been gathering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Tamar Park (outside the government offices) to protest the National People’s Congress (NPC) of China’s decision to restrict the right to vote for Chief Executive, the city’s highest political leader in 2017.
Article 45 of the Basic Law (Hong Kong’s own mini-constitution implemented after the handover from Britain to China in 1997) states that the Chief Executive should be chosen by universal suffrage as an eventual goal. Time and time again the Communist Party of China have dodged/shut down any democratic progress. Last month the NPC announced that they would continue using the 1200-member committee, consisting of members loyal to the Communist Party, to vote for our CE. THIS IS ILLEGAL. THIS IS SHAM DEMOCRACY AND SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED.
The sit-in of university students belongs to a movement called ‘Occupy Central with Love and Peace’ and is led by The Hong Kong Federation of Students (schedule and declaration of the strike included). This act of civil disobedience consists of absolute non-violence. It consists of free public lectures offered by university professors and writers on topics like Orwell’s ‘1984’, history of Hong Kong’s struggle for democracy, Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s fight to end injustice etc etc. I was one of the students sitting in Tamar Park on Tuesday and Thursday and it was one of the most rewarding, educational and, I must emphasise, peaceful political activities I have ever witnessed.
On Friday, high school students led by the student group Scholarism joined in the protest. They marched to Civic Square, pleading for our current CE to come out of his offices and listen to their requests, just like he promised during his ‘campaign’ in 2012. More and more citizens joined in the protest after work.
The police started cutting off access to Civic Square, which is a publicly owned area. They used shields to form a blockade against the protestors and started pushing them back. When people resisted with umbrellas, they started using clubs and pepper spray on the protestors, who started putting both of their hands up to show they are unarmed. Many students who managed to rush in Civic Square are arrested, including the leader of Scholarism. Many of them have visible injuries caused by police brutality and some of them still haven’t been released from police custody.
THE FIGHT IS STIL GOING ON. PEOPLE ARE STILL CROWDING OUTSIDE CIVIC SQUARE AND TAMAR. Resources are running thin and the police are still threatening violence. Some of my friends are at the protest and they are continuing the struggle despite the risks. It is predicted that the police will escalate their brutality with tear gas, more pepper spray and water cannons against innocent, peaceful protestors, many of them teenagers.
You can watch Occupy Central live here: x (Apple Daily livestream)
I know tumblr is a US-centric place but PLEASE PLEASE SPARE A SECOND TO REBLOG THIS POST. Hong Kong is a tiny city. We are anything but a formidable force in international politics. The only thing we can do is raise awareness among the world and force our corrupt government to answer to our protests.
PLEASE HELP US.
I actually really dislike posts that say “spread this like wildfire.” But spread this shit like wildfire. They have moved on from pepper spray to tear gas. This is my city. Phone messages tonight have all been checking each other to make sure we are safe.