Last Night

Last night a peaceful protest in Hong Kong turned into something much bigger which may make change for the future. Demonstrations started with hundred then thousands of young people, mostly university age students. The reason for their assembly to try to influence the changes that may take away some of the freedoms of the people. From what we can gather, Hong Kong which returned to China in 1997, has been allowed freedoms and government to act somewhat independently from the rest of China. News came that this may start to change. 2017 a new process would allow people to vote, but the candidates would be hand picked by the capital, no longer a freedom from local residents to pick their own candidates. The young people took to the streets last night and peacefully blocked roads in the financial district of Hong Kong. The police tried to disperse the crowds by using tear gas, but the people stood strong.

20140929_HKProtest2

From reports only a few were hurt and the and the crowds remained calm despite the police presence. This says a lot about the people. They are staying put, but without violence, disruption, chaos or rioting.

The crowd around Admiralty -HK financial district

The crowd around Admiralty -HK financial district

Today we were in the area and went to see for ourselves. At first it looked like a handful of people on closed roads. Someone pointed us further down the road and on the other side of an overpass we were startled by the crowds still there. Signs were posted on cardboard, on roads and barriers. Thousands of young students dressed in black with yellow ribbons of support with eye goggles and face masks sat peacefully on phones or chatting to friends. A few people spoke to the crowd and people quietly applauded. Talking to some of the young demonstrators you can see how passionate they are. They want to fight for freedom, show civil disobedience, but peacefully resist. One young girl quickly explained to me the reason for the crowd and why they had gathered. She stumbled over her English and kept apologising for the errors. She ended with I just want to help. I am here to help the people. She offered me a wet towel and when I refused she insisted.

one of numerous signs to get the message across

one of numerous signs to get the message across

Some shops were open, but many closed, but the people were not interested in doing any harm. It overwhelmed me to see the support, passion and how they cared for their city. As visitors many thanked us for coming and showing support. We were offered food, water, cold packs and wet towels to keep us comfortable in the heat. A young man gave us a face mask in case of more tear gas and said if we need anything speak to any of the ‘cooling stations’ which were well stocked with food, toilet paper, cases and cases of water. An elderly woman came with a trolley and in a styrofoam box she passed out hot meals to the students consisting of rice and breaded pork. Men and women in business suits came out on their lunch hour. To many people it was a photo op of selfies, but deep down you could see the care and concern that the future may hold. A young business man said he watched it all unfold from his office building and stated how proud he was of the people banding together, but how they remained calm and in control. As we walked along people apologised for bumping into you, offered you whatever they had. All these people demonstrating would cause quiet the mess, but there was no garbage strewn about. A young protester was carrying a garbage bag and picking up the small amounts of litter that were left behind. Again I was overwhelmed.

peaceful civil disobedience

peaceful civil disobedience

Whenever you think protest in a foreign country, or any country, your first instinct should be turn away. We felt safe and everyone wanted to share their message. The genuine thanks for our support, smiles and shaking our hands was like being welcomed into someone’s home. The feeling of acceptance and appreciation was unlike anything I would expect. The diverse groups of people coming together made us realise that this could be a part of history, life changing for many.

Last night as the police tear gassed the crowds the protesters quickly handed umbrellas out to those closest to the police. They covered themselves in plastic wrap, wore face masks and opened the umbrellas to protect themselves.

“The Umbrella Revolution” Last night as the police tear gassed the crowds the protesters quickly handed umbrellas out to those closest to the police. They covered themselves in plastic wrap, wore face masks and opened the umbrellas to protect themselves.

WP challenge for this week was NIGHT. This was a pretty historic night…

OK so my pictures weren’t taken at night and we only watched it on the TV because we had just arrived in HK oblivious to the news until after we checked in. It has carried on all day today and I am sure again into the night…

Stay tuned.

Advertisements
Categories: Culture, History, strange adventures, Uncategorized, unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , ,

Post navigation

21 thoughts on “Last Night

  1. I think revolutions have started throughout history in exactly this manner. Fascinating post! Thank you.

    • It was pretty amazing. The fear you automatically assume when you hear protest, but it really was peaceful and restrained. Lavendar Ladi found another blog with a first hand account from a local girl. I added the link to my post. You should check out her post too. You can feel the pride and self discipline through her words and echoed by the crowds.

  2. Freda Goulet

    You were there as history was being written…amazing that it was so organized and peaceful. Let’s hope the demonstrations remain this way.

    • That is exactly what many expats said… we are a part of history. The local people didn’t see it in the same way, but hope of change, but fear it wouldn’t matter was present. Lavendar Ladi found another post and gave me the link. I added it on my post with a comment I made to her (Miss Tofu). It was interesting to read her post too. She made a good point that being there and seeing made the difference.

  3. Wow. What an opportunity!

    • It was scary at first, but they were so welcoming. The atmosphere was indescribable…. passionate is the closest I can come to, but at the same time self disciplined as Miss Tofu described. Thanks for finding Miss Tofu’s post. I added a link to her on my post too.

  4. Pingback: Last Night | Canadian Travel Bugs | Patchwork Ponderings

  5. That was quite something to witness.

    • You could only feel I am part of something BIG. Fear was my first reaction and the crowd suddenly started to move and I was worried, but we pushed in deeper despite my hesitation. I am so glad I did as I saw everyone banded together and helping each other. No damage to shops in the area and people even cleaning up… very peaceful.

      • Just as it should be but most often these things go out of control. I wonder what turns the tide.

        • The HK people don’t want the destruction. As one blogger who lives here and is this age she said the people are self-disciplined. Talking to many they are beyond their comfort zone and this isn’t something they would ever dream of doing… but they are so passionate about this and the alternative so opposite of what they want they are protesting. I think their calm will keep things in control. Today will be the test. It is National Holiday and the feeling something big is going to happen it will be today.

  6. More thoughts… this is what I posted as a comment on Miss Tofu. Check out her first hand account from a local perspective.
    (http://misstofu1010.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/tonight-hong-kong-has-given-me-one-more-reason-to-be-proud-of-being-a-hongkonger/comment-page-1/#comment-133)

    We happened to be in HK for a short holiday and saw this on the news. (I wrote about it from a visitor perspective) My husband wanted to go, but I was afraid. Crowds, protest, police and tear gas. The next day in the bright sunlight I agreed. The crowd made me nervous and not understanding Chinese more so. Soon as we got closer I saw the helping, caring and pride of everyone peacefully sitting and chatting to friends. Others offered us materials as we passed the crowds. Many thanked us for coming and showing support. I relaxed and quickly become overwhelmed by what I saw and the hope of things that could be. I am Canadian and know freedom. I live in mainland China and understand the frustration. I have hope that everyone together can make a difference. Be proud of what peace you have accomplished and shown the world. As you say no shops are boarded up or broken. No looting and violence. I cannot be as proud of my fellow Canadians as some sporting events have shown how crowd mentality can get out of hand. This is my 4th visit to Hong Kong. Something about the city has always brought us back. Now I know why… the people.

  7. Thank you for the images; stay safe!

    • Thanks. It is something to be seen, felt and shared. The news doesn’t always portray the human sides of the story, just facts. They sometimes make it appear worse than it is. The images of crowds and the one small minor altercation and tear gas has been relayed over and over. That isn’t what is happening now and that only took place over a very short time. The majority of time and since then it was peaceful. The tear gas was an attempt to disperse the crowds… not as a response to violence or problems. BUT when you just get a glimpse of an image our prior knowledge sometimes fills in the blanks. Speaking to some of the youth and seeing this helped us get a better understanding. Today is the National Holiday. Seems like it will be something big… the world is watching.

      • Yes, I was very surprised to find out that it was a student-led protest! I can’t ever imagine it happening in Singapore but it is a very interesting news to follow!

        • Yes it is interesting for sure. I think throughout history it is the young people who bring about a lot of change. After all they have more invested in the future than some of the older folk 😉
          Young people get a bad wrap, but they are pretty amazing! I am a teacher and the kindness, generosity and intelligence some young kids exhibit is WELL beyond their years.

  8. Fascinating posts – thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks Jenny. It was something to be there and I really wanted to show the calm side and the passion of the people. I hope they can make a difference.

  9. Pingback: Signs of Democracy | Canadian Travel Bugs

%d bloggers like this: