They go to the streets for their freedom. Although they are afraid, although activists have been arrested and a planned rally canceled. Young Hong Kong report
Hong Kong's youth want to take to the streets again. Even if China has increased the pressure on the Special Administrative Region: The planned weekend demonstrations have been canceled and three prominent activists arrested on Friday. Among them is Joshua Wong, who was released from prison in June. However, the movement has no clear leader. More than a million people have demonstrated, according to the organizers last week. Who is behind the masks? Here are four of them. For their protection, they speak anonymously.
"The government does not give a damn for peaceful protests"
Michael is 26 years old and a doctoral student, in 2014 he still believes that he can not change anything with protest - now he's back on the streets despite being banned.
Also, if the protests have been banned, I'll go back to the streets. August 31st is an important anniversary, especially for people involved in the Umbrella Movement. At that time, Beijing announced that the Hong Kong people still can not elect the head of government in open elections. In addition, there was a ban last week and the people still came to protest. When Hong Kong Prime Minister Carrie Lam held a press conference thereafter, it made sure that the radical demonstrators came out again. Now, just before the protest tomorrow, they arrest prominent activists - as if they wanted us to take to the streets again.
When I demonstrated for the first time in 2014, I still believed that we could achieve our goals through peaceful civil disobedience. I opposed the special police units with friends and demanded free elections. But after the protests, the government did not respond to our demands and I did not feel we had achieved anything. It was just unbelievably frustrating: everything we had been fighting for months was in vain. It was clear to me that China is practically controlling Hong Kong and will not allow us democracy. After that, I started ignoring politics. I did not want to go anywhere, I just wanted to work hard, get good grades and leave this city as soon as possible.
But then on the 9th of June, one million people peacefully took to the streets and at the same time people began to build street blockades as an act of civil disobedience. I had the feeling that there is hope again and have joined the street occupations the same night.
I do not want to imagine what happens if we fail.
Since 2014, I also understand why some people use more radical methods - the government does not give a damn for peaceful protests. That's why I help the people from the radical camp. For example, I provide first aid, explain to motorists why the road is blocked, where they can drive instead, and apologize to them for the inconvenience. It is important that we do not lose the support of the population. In addition, I collect equipment such as gas masks, helmets and goggles at a material station near the protests so that people at the front can protect themselves against the increasingly extreme police methods. Even with the police, I did not care.
I do not want to imagine what happens if we fail. If the police treat us like this already, I do not know what it will look like if Beijing's influence gets even stronger in the coming years. I do not want to live in a country that is terrorized by an authoritarian party.
I'll wait for the end of the movement, but maybe I'll end my PhD with a Master sooner and move abroad to do research there. Many of my friends want to leave the city, but it's difficult, some can not afford it. Especially the younger ones say that they will fight to the end because they have nothing left to lose. I do not think they are really ready to start a revolution or demand independence.
Independence would probably be ideal, but not realistic. At best, China will give us more freedom and allow us to vote our government with universal suffrage. Also, a real break from Hong Kong and China, as promised by "One Country, Two Systems" over 20 years ago, would be a good solution for many. But China does not want that. China wants a country and a system, and that Hong Kong is completely under Chinese control. The current movement is our last battle. If we lose them, we lose everything.