Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Two Years On from Occupy

A large yellow reminder of two years ago for the fight for universal suffrage
Today marks the second anniversary of the Occupy protests that spontaneously broke out at Admiralty, when people were trying to get the activists released who were surrounded by police in Civic Square.

The milestone was marked by a six-metre long yellow banner "I want true universal suffrage" placed on Devil's Peak in Lei Yue Mun by the League of Social Democrats, that was taken down about 90 minutes later.

People gathered at Admiralty tonight to mark the anniversary
And then in the evening at 5.58pm people gathered at Tim Mei Avenue in Admiralty and observed three minutes of silence, the time when the police began spraying tear gas into the crowd.

I was there that afternoon, and told YTSL to come with me. She had just gotten off the plane from Japan and didn't understand what all the fuss was about.

But after we got a snack and I checked my Twitter feed to find out tear gas had been unleashed and we rushed back to see what was going on. We saw a surreal sight of people occupying the Connaught Road overpass and Queensway and refusing to leave. And there were people getting giant barrels of water ready in case the police would fire more tear gas.

We knew the roads would be blocked for a while at least and I remember getting to my great aunt's place in Tokwawan via the Star Ferry and then a bus.

Two years ago this was the initial surreal scene in Admiralty
On the news later that night we saw that Mongkok, Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay had also been occupied. It was simultaneously shocking and thrilling to hear that ordinary people had taken control of the area -- when was the last time something like this had happened?

They were brave but also determined to stand their ground which made me so proud of them. They were tired of being pushed around by Beijing and the Hong Kong government wasn't representing their interests.

The last straw was the white paper released in August that reiterated there would be no direct elections of the chief executive in 2017. So when would we ever get universal suffrage that was promised to us? They had to stand up for themselves and they did -- for 79 days.

I miss being able to walk along Connaught Road Central and there was such a community spirit there, people were very friendly and eco-conscious, everyone had the same mindset. It was a calm, but also passionate place, especially when there were gatherings to hear speeches.

Eventually evenings would look like this, crowded but friendly
The sad thing is that Occupy will probably never happen again.

But it has spawned a new generation of politically active kids, a few of them even elected into the Legislative Council! Who would have thought that would be possible! Pretty amazing.

So there is hope, but how do we proceed from here? What is the legacy of Occupy and what does it mean to us?

Thanks for the memories that are still vivid two years later. We will never forget that day.


2 comments:

  1. It's inevitable that we'd be thinking about what happened two years ago today, right? Agree with much of what you wrote.

    Re how we proceed from here: I think that the Umbrella Movement made lots of us more politically aware and active. And, especially after the recent elections, I actually believe that the mood is turning hopeful once more even while many people are still understandably cautious and vigilant.

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    1. HI YTSL. I'm just nostalgic for those days... but as you say, a lot of people voted some localists into Legco so they too have hope that their voices will be heard.

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