Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Hong Kong's #OccupyCentral with Love and Peace

at the financial district of Hong Kong
"I must be getting really old,"said the big milestone celebrant Chiqui as we were finishing our drinks and heading out on foot to Central on foot. And she ended "...because my idea of fun is no longer to booze all night but to visit the protesters."

It was almost midnight when we reached Connaught Road and there were hundreds of people, mostly students, camped on the streets. We caught some sleeping on plastic sheets and cardboards, a few were sleeping in hammocks and others were actually set up in tents. There were different sections such as a study area offering tutorials in math and science, a speaker's corner, concert area and even an area to charge mobile phones and tablets.

This is now the scene at the business district in Hong Kong. The protesters call themselves "Occupy Central with Love and Peace," a civil disobedience movement initiated by a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, Benny Tai Yiu-ting.

Early in January 2013, Tai demanded universal suffrage for the 2017 Chief Executive elections; this is, the right to nominate and directly elect the head of the Hong Kong government in reaction to the decision of China to screen candidates.  Apparently, his January 16, 2013 column in the Hong Kong Economic Journal entitled "Civil disobedience is the most powerful weapon" became the blueprint for Occupy Central. He wrote that the best way to protest is to mobilize 10,000 people to block the roads in the financial capital should the government screen candidates.

pro-democracy messages on the 'Lennon Wall"
For this year, Tai initially wanted to stage a three day sit in starting on October 1, but decided to stage it earlier on September 28, when students were pepper-sprayed and arrested.

The movement is now called "umbrella revolution' for the umbrellas used by the students to protect
themselves from police pepper spray.

I'm not sure how how long the protesters will last. As of today, I spotted in the news that the police will start clearing the barricades and tents to open a key road to traffic. I'm sure this won't be another Tianamen Square incident in 1986 and a peaceful solution will come out.

I'm glad that for Chiqui's birthday, we were able to experience this and show our support. We ended up writing a note and posted it on the "Lennon Wall," a colorful patchwork of thousands of sticky notes.

some sleeping on plastic sheets 
spotted one lying in a hammock
protesters camping out
area cordoned off to allow students to study

area set up to charge phones and tablets

Umbrella Man covered with colorful post-it notes with messages of support and solidarity 

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