Protests in Hong Kong are continuing after tens of thousands of people defied calls for them to dismantle their camps and return home.
Demonstrations grew after police tried to disperse crowds using batons and tear gas. Riot police later withdrew.
The pro-democracy protesters are angry at China for limiting their choice in Hong Kong’s 2017 leadership elections.
Hey so recently the protests in Hong Kong have reached the eyes and ears of an international audience and I realize that people are reblogging these images of the various states of the protests and the interactions with the police including tear gas, pepper spray and excessive force. I also realize that most people don’t know what exactly is going on or only know vague facts and even though I no longer live there this hits very close to home and I want people to fully understand what is going on. So here’s a run down:
- Hong Kong was a colony of England until 1997 when it was turned over to China. The agreement was that Hong Kong would be allowed to hold their own democratic elections for the first time ever in 2017 to appoint their leader known as the Hong Kong Chief Executive. Currently, that position is filled by someone chosen by a Chinese commitee. The system that would be put into place in 2017 is “one country two systems”.
- In July 2014 specifically the Chinese government released a statement basically saying that Hong Kong citizens could vote democratically, but the only candidates that could run would be picked specifically by the Chinese government. China would literally pick who would be Chief Executive allowing for China to implement their own rules through the Chief Exec. on Hong Kong.
- Benny Tai is the founder and head of Occupy Central a non-violent protest for universal suffrage (basically the right to vote) started in early 2013. Since the Chinese government revealed this set up more people have continued to join the protests which have escalated this past weekend. Just a reminder these were all peaceful protests in which the police responded starting with pepper spray and moving up to tear gas and rubber bullets extremely fast.
- The importance of these protests though is not specifically the election in 2017 it’s whether Hong Kong will accept China’s slow invasion of Hong Kongers rights or not. Hong Kong inhabitants throughout the years have been growingly nervous at the thought of a Chinese takeover specifically of another occurrence of Tiananmen Square where about 2.5 thousand peaceful protesters were massacred. Although Hong Kong was not directly targeted the thought that this could happen again in Hong Kong this time is increasingly worry some especially now with the crackdown on the protests.
Honestly the scariest part of this all is that Hong Kong is an international affluent city home to approximately 7.5 million people and one of the most important financial capitals of the world. This is not a small village or town that will be over run, it is a well oiled modern city that prides itself in being insanely efficient and a predominately safe atmosphere. Being a teenager there especially on Hong Kong Island was extremely easy as the number and seriousness of crimes were a bare minimum. Of course there are areas that you wouldn’t want to be walking alone around at night but what I’m trying to get at is this is not a city where excessive violence generally occurs. So the fact that the police are the ones cracking down and there is fear and anxiety over the future of a democratic Hong Kong is genuinely terrifying.
I really hope you understand the importance of these protests and the impact they will have on the future of Hong Kong.
Some sources that are offering live coverage:
Note: The last image of the peace sign + umbrella is said to be the slogan for the protests due to the use of umbrellas during the protests to block pepper spray, direct contact to tear gas and for general protection against anything thrown at them. You will notice many people holding them open in the above photos
Hong Kong’s “Cubicle Dwellers”: Exposing Life in One of the World’s Most Densely Packed Cities
In light of the current political protests in Hong Kong, showcasing a project from the Hong Kong-based Society for Community Organization (SoCO), a non-governmental and human rights advocacy group, seems fitting. SoCO has organized community social actions and civic education programs to encourage political participation since 1972, and it recently brought attention to the unacceptable living conditions of many of the city’s poorer inhabitants in a disturbingly illuminating ad campaign. “Cubicle Dwellers” shows the tiny apartments, averaging only about 40 square feet and too small to be shot from anywhere but above, that over 100,000 people occupy. In these spaces, individuals and families must rest, cook, and store all their personal belongings. Due to Hong Kong’s lack of buildable space, the city has come to be one of the world’s densest, resulting in increasingly tall, tightly-packed dwellings. Indeed, thirty-six of the world’s 100 tallest residential buildings are in Hong Kong, and more people live or work above the 14th floor than anywhere else on Earth, making it the world’s most vertical city. The project highlights how the disparity between industrial growth and human needs can rapidly transform environments, and how an imbalance in the way we distribute our energy resources can paradoxically create places of enormous wealth and widespread poverty.
Occupy Central has now been termed Umbrella Revolution. A selection of images on twitter show how the umbrella has become iconic in the last 24 hours.