The Democracy Protests of Hong Kong since June have gained national attention across the country. The infamous videos of protesters marching in the streets of Hong Kong and videos of individuals raising the American flag while singing the United State’s National anthem in protest has grabbed American’s attention. Protestors are apt in fighting against the “Corrupt” government until they meet their “5 Demands”, which has resulted in many serious injuries and deaths among protesters. As I watched the protests rage on within Hong Kong on cable news media such as CNN and Fox News, I knew I had to reach out to get some answers of my own.
During the upcoming summer of my Sophomore year in high school, I met a girl from Hong Kong who was attending the same entrepreneur summer class as I at the University Of Iowa. In the years to come, she had started to post videos and photos of the democracy protests which have now circulated the internet and national cable news sources. With the rise of media coverage of the topic, I decided to reach out to her in order to get her overview of the entire ordeal that has consumed her daily life as a citizen in Hong Kong. Along with her perspective, she had also reached out to other activists and protestors for their voices to add to this article. I also reached out to many others from Hong Kong that I had kept in contact with from over the years.
The following information and first person views in this piece of the events now unfolding in Hong Kong are from those who have responded to my questions in an effort to push change in the corrupt Chinese government and police forces. As of writing this piece, Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam had withdrew from the Extradition bill that had started the protests. Only time will tell the fate of the people of Hong Kong.
During one of my interviews with a Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protester, she mentioned a key point for those reading about their story. She wanted to make it clear that through her statements, she is not trying to coerce anyone into thinking they way she thought about everything. If anything, she wants individuals to think for themselves by doing their own research regarding the current crisis of Hong Kong.
This is their story:
Individuals who responded to my questions include: (Live feeder/ English translator of @peoplevsbeijing/ Protestor Chi’s/ Protestor Joycelyn Yu’s/ Protestor Gordon Yeung/ and Protestor Chimmy Yeung’s responses) :
What is the environment like in HK right now especially with all the protests and police presence?
@peoplevsbeijing: “During mid to late july, after 21/7 and 28/7 (notable police brutality on these 2 dates) i feel like everyone is somewhat paranoid on the streets and are on high alert levels. Hkers never had to worry about their safety on the streets as we consider hk to be a very safe place. However, when the people who are supposed to protect us turned their backs against us, we feel extremly unsafe, as if we’re living in a police state. Hostility and tension between protesters (or even just citizens in general) and police have definitely heightened and it’s very apparent. It’s good and weird at the same time as i’ve noticed way less mainland toursest on the streets in hk, but more foreign tourist as usual. It feels like jk has reverted to a few years back when we’re not flooded with chinese tourists. But that’s just a personal observation. The most conventional topic to start a conversation with people is-what’s happening in hk rn, it’s good to see people being politically aware, yet sad bc it’s affecting everyone’s lives and mental state in many different ways”.
Chi: “Police are terrorists. (August 31, obviously most of the time) When I see police, I will escape quickly. And there is in cahoots with the triads. No police, there is peace.
Joycelyn Yu:”With police there is no peace”
Gordan Yeung:”It’s been a mess. Surely a lot of less people go shopping”.
Chimmy Yeung: “With the government and police department spreading white terror, citizens are petrified even if they’re just passing by the protests or living by the surround areas”.
What are the protestors fighting for?
@peoplevsbeijing: “Protestors are currently fighting for the 5 demands: complete withdrawl of the extradition bill, retraction of categorizing the 12/6 protest as a riot, release and exonerate arrested protestors, establish an independent inquiry commission to investigate into police brutality, as well as implementation of universal suffrage for legislative council and chief executive elections. However, all these demands are primarily stemmed from carrie lam, hk’s chief executive’s plan to amend the legislation regarding extradition. We as hongkongers are not confident with china’s judiciary system and fret that if people end up being extradited to china, they’ll receive unjust treatment and trials.
I think I’ve mentioned my motivations for the protests earlier but basically i’m just standing up for hk’s core values which makes us different from china. We have freedom of speech, press, assembly, protest and many more in which china do not have. And to prove to china that we’re not going to back down and surrender because of fear (but i do believe some people have taken this interpretation to the extreme and have done some non-ideal actions)
Chi: “The Five Demands”
Joycelyn Yu: “Democracy and freedom. They want to change the corrupted system here”.
Gordon Yeung: “5 demands and all the social problems, including housing, power of police being to big, voting rights for the chief executive ect.”
Have you participated with the protesting?
@peoplevsbeijing :“As i wasn’t in hk during the initial marches and protests in june, i haven’t been involved as much physically. I’ve only been to the airport sit-in on 12/8. But i’ve been active on social media with a group of very socially aware people who do live translations and gather news from different media sources to provide a platform for non chinese speakers in hk and all over the world for them to be more informed from a hker’s pov (since some foreign media are lacking terms of only including information that are asked in english in press conferences, in which those questions don’t necessarily cover a lot of the real situation in hk rn)”.
Chi: “There are two types of protestors, one is fighting against police directly, they mostly wear gears e.g mask, helmets ect. Which mostly appear on newspapers. Another type is relatively peaceful, will serve as back up, for example, purchasing gears for those who are fighting in the front, going to protests (e.g June 9). Although the front may be violent, there is a faith which is not criticizing the front and differentiating. Most of us are peaceful.
Jocelyn Yu: “Many wor front middle back line also have”
Gordon Yeung: “Yes, wo le fei” (peaceful, rationable, and non violence)
Have you experienced any force from police?
Jocelyn Yu:”A little”
Gordon Yeung: “Luckily not yet”
What is the state of morale among Hong Kong citizens?
@peoplevsbeijing: “As stated before, the 5 demands are the protestors’ main goals. But along the way, idk if everyone on the streets now are still fighting for the 5 demands that initiated this whole movement, or whether they’re only out bc of personal reasons. Some only come out due to rage, and some comes out bc of their hatred towards police. I believe as this movement has been dragged over for almost 90 days, some people might have lost their initial motivation along the way. But i believe the majority of people who are fighting for the 5 demands are still standing by them, and i think it’s very admirable. HOWEVER, some protestors used unnecessary violence (e.g. throwing gas bombs at police stations) and i do not condone these actions.
Chi: “Frightening. We are fighting for out freedom, and we will not give up. But continuing the water revolution is diffulcult, as it has already been 3 months and we are tired. And there is Hong Kong citizens still supporting the police, they will come and scold us even we are only screaming our slogans. If we wore black tees out the police may come check our bags or just randomly finding some reasons to arrest us. It is quite tiring, and quite horrifying”.
Joycelyn Yu: “Lowering”
Gordon Yeung: “Scary”
Is your freedom of speech in danger?
@peoplevsbeijing: “In terms of legislation, no. but irl, yes. People are very wary of what they say on the streets (or even online) now bc they don’t wanna trigger anyone or put themselves at risk. Some sources have rumored that network providers were told to limit what we can access on the internet. As a free society, this seriously jeopardizes our freedom of speech and is virtually a breach of the law and the sino british agreement
Chi: “Of course. The water revolution is using telegram and LiHKG is because this two social media can hide our identity. If some of us are being arrested, we would kick them out of all the telegram groups”.
Jocelyn Yu: “Yes”
Gordon Yeung: “Yes, it’s clear that the CCP is trying to reduce the freedom of speech of Hk people”.
What Would You Change?
Chi: “Maybe nothing. It is a bet that 99% will lose and 1% of hope. Yet I’m sure that we are making change, our next generation is our hope. Some children are going to the protests, or even front ling. There is 12 year old being arrested. It is our fault that we can’t protect them, yet this didn’t happen in the umbrella revolution (2014), we have raised their awareness”.
Gordon Yeung: “Bring back peace, and bring back all the things that every Hker deserves, including democracy and safety”.
Next is more information gathered from another protestor that I got into contact with. She was grateful for providing the pictures that you will now see of the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Some of the pictures are also from the various protestors I interviewed. One of them commented about the pictures stating that,”The photos are mostly from the june 17th protest and August 6th strike gathering at tamar park”.
Anonymous Protestor: “The blue and white police barrier was set up on a pedestrian bridge next to tamar park where a peaceful gathering was authorized so not only did participants who only came prepared with glasses and face masks (not full gear like frontliners) have to deal with excess tear gas coming up from the highway where riot police were facing off with frontline protestors, they were literally tear gassed from several feet away. No explanation or justification to this day and that’s obviously not the only instance of something like this, just the only one i have photos of…it’s only gotten worse since I left to be honest”.
Anonymous Protestor: “The posters are ones we put up in the middle of the night/early morning before 616 along kings road from causeway bay to north point (major commercial residential areas on hong kong island where most protests were concentrated up to that point)
“At the time moderates and people over 30 were less involved in the movement, maybe not actively against it but less aware of resistance activities as they were mostly organized on social media and telegram. Telegram Is an encrypted messaging app we use to organize marches, gatherings, evacuation, supply stations, ect. Now hk ppl are more on the side of the protestors…for more context protestors wear black and triads wear white”.
“Yellow is the color of the resistance and blue is the color representing the police force and its supporters”.
“Pro-gov and pro-police have some overlap but almost nobody identifies as pro-gov”.
“There are alot of cases of white shirts and police wearing black to impersonate protesters then starting fires/beating people up ect, even arresting people WHILE pretending to be protestors. You’ll find a lot on that esp from the last few days in the news sources I sent you”.
Links to other related pieces: