In this post, we asked our Local, Winnie N., to share the background of a specific historical event and its impact on Hong Kong people and herself.
The Umbrella Movement was a political movement in Hong Kong in 2014 where people were fighting for democracy. Umbrellas were used by individuals to protect themselves from the pepper spray the police were using on the protesters, and also became a symbol of resistance and defiance for the movement. This protest was a result of the opposition to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress’s decision on August 31 and the protesters wanted universal suffrage for the election of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong.
I still remember that night: 28th September 2014. I was having dinner with my friends in Causeway Bay while the news reported that a group of students were protesting. We saw that some students were being arrested brutally. My friends and I decided to finish dinner early and rush to the scene. We thought this was something related to Hong Kong’s future.
I will never forget that night. It was my first time to stand against the anti-riot police and it was my first time to witness the new page of Hong Kong. We hate to say so but we witnessed that the freedom of speech in Hong Kong was getting worse. We thought the students were doing something constructive to the community and systems so we had to support them. There were thousands of people gathered around Civic Square when we arrived. When we knew that students were stuck in Civic Square with no water or food, we rushed to the nearby convenience stores to look for supplies. However, most of the shelves were empty. People rushed to buy supplies for the students and protesters. We did not know the people around, but we all shared the same thought and same goal. We just grabbed whatever was left on the shelves and we ran back to the scene to be with the students.
It was such an important day for Hong Kong and me because it was the beginning of the 79 days of the Umbrella Movement. It was the start of a utopia, but also the beginning of the feeling of helplessness. It sparked a lot of community artwork, but also a lot of disputes and arguments within Hong Kong. It was a fight between generations, a fight for living a life or just living, a fight to wake up the asleep.
I guess this incident was as significant to me as it was to others. There were a lot of post-Umbrella Movement activities, like movie-sharing, and people cried when they reviewed the whole process. It is a scar on most of us who participated in the event. Because we once had hope, but it turned out to be nothing.
“I will never forget that day.”
Many young participants had vigorous fights with their families on the issue, including me. Parents were mostly pro-government and they did not agree with any acts that would hinder economic growth. A lot of the seniors thought that what they were enjoying was so much better than before, so they did not think it was as bad as the younger generation perceived. We have different pursuits in life.
This was the first time I felt like there’s hope in Hong Kong and the last time to experience this kind of unity. The days in Admiralty and Central were like staying in a bubble, a utopia, a fantasy. Everyone was so helpful and nice and generous. We could talk about the meaning of democracy with strangers for the whole night. It was definitely a new experience for me. Life could be so simple and there were so many possibilities. It showed the good nature of humans, but of course also how corrupted the system could be. It was like a dream.
I will never forget that day.
Read our previous post in our historical event series with our friend in the community, Desiree, sharing about the SARS impact on Hong Kong and her very personal experience.
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