…but international news won’t tell you.
Starting from June, Hong Kong situation has been a bit complicated. People couldn’t stay quiet anymore when government decided to introduce extradition bill that would allow to send people to China for trial if they did something bad in there. You can read more online – the main point is, China has over 99% conviction rate and there is really many things that you think are just normal but by Chinese law might be illegal. And let me just say it again – Hong Kong is not China in a way of how legal system works. These are two separate systems.
Hong Kong protests started early June and they are great example of how united people in here are. To start with, not many people here are satisfied with the government, but it’s not democratically elected body, so not much people can do. However when extradition bill was said to be introduced, everyone stood up. There has been a silent lawyers march first. Then young people came to march against it. Then Hong Kong moms did their protest. Then press did another. Finally old people – sorry, silver hair people – came out to support young people. There was a moment when religious groups came out as well with their “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” song which almost became anthem of this protest. People who couldn’t join protest left coins and small money on top of ticket machines in nearby stations for protesters to use one trip tickets instead of their Octopus cards that leave record. Even some bus drivers and taxi drivers helped block roads. Everyone showed their support for the protest and their opposition to extradition bill.
What is even more amazing is how people organised themselves. Although there is no leaders of the protest, communication seems to flow pretty well and everyone gets updates about what to do next. There are people who would set up First Aid stations and help with injuries. There are people donating materials, like face masks, helmets, umbrellas and plastic wrap – all defence items against tear gas or pepper spray.
What international news show are fights between protesters and police, police deploying tear gas and pepper spray, people destroying things and general chaos. What’s important to note is that the whole thing started with very peaceful marches in great numbers – one time even 2 million people came. But government ignored all of it and made people frustrated and desperate. This is why the fights started and why Legislative Council got destroyed. Protesters started looking for other ways to get government to address them.
And the only thing that government do in response is use police force to beat people up, while having Chief Executive hidden in her safe house.
On the other hand, when people are not protesting, they show their opposition in other ways. There are already over 50 “Lennon walls” all over the city, where people can put up notes showing their support for the protest. People use their creative skills to make posters and graphics showing Hong Kong state of affairs. There are amazing videos as well, in few languages, created by protesters to show the world what they are fighting for – see one of the videos here.
There is one more thing that amazes a European like me. After every protest, violent or not, people would go back to the site the next day to clean the streets. They would have gloves and huge black trash bags and make sure they don’t inconvenience official street cleaners.
So next time you see a dramatic news coverage about Hong Kong in TV in your country, do think about Hong Kong protesters who tried every other peaceful method first, before getting into more dangerous situations. Think about people who fight for their future and future of their kids. They are really fighting for freedom – something a person from Europe like myself, takes for granted. No violence is good and I do not support it, but we have to understand where it’s coming from, in the politically difficult situation in Hong Kong.