In Hong-kong, the Youth Is Leading the Movement

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Article published in The Funambulist 26 (November-December 2019) Kids of the World, Unite! Click here to access the rest of the issue.

As I am writing this passage, an 18-year-old high school student is relying on an artificial to sustain minimal survival in a hospital. He was shot next to chest bone on October 1, 2019 during a protest, resulting in a rupture of his left lung. He is part of the movement that started on June 9 when one million people protested against the extradition law. Most of us did not have much faith in an undemocratic government to retract the bill. With a delay of over a hundred days, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong Chief Executive (CE) eventually announced the withdrawal of the bill. It appears to be a straight forward closure of the entire movement. Yet four months have passed, the momentum has not ebbed, and the energy has not dissipated. We have witnessed a diversity of civil resistances, such as peaceful rallies with millions, non-violent flash mob chanting in public space, singing a unifying anthem in shopping malls, boycott of pro-China businesses and restaurants, to the recent vigilantism. Foreign media often pose questions like, “when do you think this is going to end?” “After all, what are you asking for?” I don’t have a concrete answer to any of these questions. We are witnessing a historical revolution in Hong Kong where people no longer seek systemic justice from within flawed institutions. It is a solidarity movement that cuts across all classes, genders, occupations and age groups. Hong Kongers are proactively defining our own identity out of the narrative vacuum after a hundred years of colonial history and 22 years after the handover to China.

In response to the repetitive and hollow official press conferences, the Citizen’s Press Conference (CPC) was held. Many thought of it as a mere mockery. The team, however, outperforms the government with their political literacy. From featuring sign language interpreters, presentation of survey report, to well-prepared answering journalists’ incisive questions, and including voices of victims and professionals in corresponding topics, the team has showcased the capacity in coordination and leadership with limited resources. While many do not see how an inherently flawed and unjust bureaucracy can bring about any substantial change, they see unwavering potential in youngsters at occasions like the CPC. Since June 12, my friends and I have been posting enlarged images of police brutality on the street. For most middle-aged and elderly groups, their major channel to receive information, especially news is television. Unfortunately, TV industry is dominated by a broadcast company with clear inclination in favour of the government and police, censorship of brute violence committed by law enforcers, and often decontextualized protesters’ actions which appear to be groundless and ad-hoc. When revolution cannot be televised, the circulation of its images belong to the street. Our group enlarges censored images to 1:1 body height, and posts them in populated areas before major protests. In my own time, I also share summarized and translated news with foreign media to ensure they understand the movement in a local context. Lining up and coordinating with foreign feminist groups in response to sexual violence committed by the police also become a way to empower victims and make their voice heard when local authorities neglect them.