EDIT – If you wanna save yourself the time of reading my personal thoughts, this Tweet basically sums up why I’m getting involved.
I was sitting at my computer doing work for my university course late on Sunday evening. I was seeing lots of reports of violence between student protesters and the Police in Central as part of the student sit-in protest and the Occupy Central movement. As a good student, I had decided to concentrate on my work, but at around 10 pm I decided that I simply had to go and see what was happening. I had previously been to the July 1st protest in Causeway Bay but I had since lost a little faith in the pro-democracy movement. However, seeing the images of Police firing tear gas at unarmed crowds of students, who despite the violence, refused to engage the Police or back down, was the final straw so I set off to Central to document what was happening.
When I arrived at Central I met a group of students in face and eye masks saying they had just been attacked with tear gas and had retreated. They invited me to join them, but I decided to go alone towards Admiralty. The streets were lined with Police and tear gas was still in the air. I could taste it, smell it and it was burning my eyes. The students on the front line were completely peaceful, yet the Police were warning that they would use tear gas unless everyone left. Eventually they held up a sign warning us that an attack was imminent. I scarpered (most stayed) but thankfully nothing happened.
Some people (mostly Westerners) have told me I’m a ‘visitor’ to Hong Kong and as someone who is not born here I shouldn’t get involved. That’s complete bullshit. As someone who has lived here for 4 years, I feel Hong Kong is just as much of a home to me as England. The Hong Kong people are some of the kindest, helpful and caring people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting so I wanted to show my support for them. I’m quite ashamed of England’s lack of involvement in the whole thing, too. We were the ones who promised, along with China, that the Hong Kong people would get universal suffrage in 2017 and yet we’re done nothing since China announced no civil nominations would be accepted.
More important than those reasons however (and this is something I think a lot of people need to remember) we’re all human beings and the vast majority of us enjoy freedom of speech and the right to vote. These students are fighting day and night to protect something that the majority of the world takes for granted. They are sleeping on the streets, barely eating and yet still have the energy to continue protesting. They are providing water, food and supplies to people out protesting and have shown tremendous courage and bravery in the face of Communist China. The scenes of people helping each other throughout the protest have been very moving to me. They are fighting because they know that come 2047 when the current agreement expires, they will possibly lose all the freedoms they’ve had and their parents had before them. The first sign was the White Paper from China stating that candidates would be hand picked by Beijing, so what will happen next? I totally support them in this. This is not something I can accept.
So why shouldn’t I, or anybody else for that matter, rise up and support the Hong Kong people in their fight for democracy? I’ve never been a particularly politically active person, but the sheer audacity of the Chinese government to refuse to listen to demands for a fair civil nomination, as well as my own government’s impotent attempts at confronting China are enough for me to get involved. This isn’t just the Hong Kong peoples fight, it’s the fight of everyone who supports democracy and freedom of speech.
Anyway I’ve ranted for long enough. Here are some photos of the past four days.
Sunday 28th September, 2014 (Central/Admiralty)
Monday 29th September, 2014 (Mongkok)
Sunday 30th September, 2014 (Mongkok)
Monday 1st October, 2014 (Admiralty)