Do you hear the people sing? A Foreigner’s Experience of the Pro-Democracy Demonstrations in HK

Occupy Central Umbrella Revolution Hong Kong Today I made my way over to the pro-democracy demonstrations in Admiralty on Hong Kong Island. On my way I walked in the middle of what is normally some of Hong Kong’s most busy highways and overpasses which are now left empty from the occupation outside the Central Government Houses effectively clogging the main artery of the central business district. The massive crowd which I have been watching on CNN for the last three days is mostly local college-age students. Some younger. Some older. Do you hear the people sing Occupy Central Hong KongThere were practically no foreigners besides the news media and I didn’t see any Western permanent residents of Hong Kong making their presence known. It was absolutely inspiring to walk through this determined crowd of people who are simply asking to receive what was promised to them in the 1997 handover from the British rule- true universal suffrage; the right to both nominate and elect government officials, specifically the Chief Executive Officer.

Occupy Central Umbrella Revolution Hong Kong Distribution TentYellow ribbons are being handed out all over Hong Kong to “Support Democracy in Hong Kong”. People proudly wear them pinned to their shirt or tied around their wrist. There is also an innumerable amount of them tied on guard rails and fences surrounding the protest site. Occupy Central Fight for Democracy Relief BoothProtesters are well organized with booths to gather and redistribute water bottles, food, face masks, tissues, and cold towels as well as plastic wrap, raincoats, and umbrellas in the event that tear gas is used again by the authorities to control the crowds. The umbrella has become a symbol of these non-violent demonstrations as a way to protect oneself from both pepper spray and the strong Hong Kong sun. (#umbrellarevolution) I donated the umbrella I brought with me to one of the resource booths as it was obvious I wouldn’t need it during this peaceful time in the early afternoon. It should also be said that they are also taking the time to collect their trash- even going so far as dividing the recycling and sweeping the street of debris.

Occupy Central Hong Kong CrowdThe midday sun was blazing hot as I walked through the demonstration area and you could tell people were conserving their strength as they rested underneath umbrellas, cooled off with wet towels, and spritzed one another with spray bottles and fans. It is said that the crowds will only swell more in the next couple days since people have off for National Day on Wednesday and Chung Yeung Festival on Thursday. So far Bejjing has only made it clear to Hong Kong police to handle the situation but who knows what this next week will bring.

 

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