Friday, November 21, 2014

Occupy Central - Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement

Being in Hong Kong this week, I managed to walk down through the Occupy Central site, where tens of thousands of students are camping out to protest the democratic process in Hong Kong, whereby they can vote directly for their Chief Executive, rather than having a group China approves for election. This pro-democracy fight is to seek to be governed by the people Hong Kong choose. This protest began in September, and is now into it's 55th day today.

The yellow umbrella has become a symbol of the protest, mainly because of it's use to protest the unarmed protesters against pepper-spray yielding police, who were in full riot gear trying to move the protestors along just 6 days into the mass sit-in. The everyday Hong Kong umbrella was their protector.

The symbol of the umbrella, and the vision of one protester walking through a cloud of tear gas with an umbrella raised, has been likened to the image of Tank Man in the Tiananmen Square. Powerful stuff!

Walking through the protest area was pretty easy, as many people were walking in, and very many office workers were sitting eating lunch around the tents. Lending their support.

The set up of the site is pretty impressive - there are recycling waste stations, there are several First Aid tents, and all the way through there are structures build to allow safe passage across the usual road barrier between lanes. There is a Social Work tent.

Students are the majority of those camped, and so in the middle of it all there is a study tent and library, which seemed to hold the most people when I walked through.

In addition to all this are the amazing art displays, and powerful and inspiring slogans of peace, hope and freedom. The Lennon Wall is a stairway covered in post-it notes filled with messages.

The umbrella symbol is used everywhere in the pro-democracy signs and messages. And then, it's also used in art, such as this sewn-together canopy between two of the city's elevated walkways.

It was inspiring, walking through the protest. So much symbolism, and the sheer volume of people camped was so impressive! Many people, of all ages, were around making art or gathering in discussions in tents or communal areas.

The camp sprawls along a major multi-lane city arterial, and then creeps through side streets to position in front of several key government buildings. It has disrupted traffic, and access to many buildings, for all these months.

The day I was there was the first day where protesters where ordered by court order to move some of the camping set ups, for access to certain buildings. Bailiffs were reportedly moving some people along, who were peacefully complying. An article that I read quoted one of the organisers of the protest as saying that perhaps it was time to start moving along, and beginning a new direction for the pro-democracy movement.

I saw police gathered, moving barricades in a certain area. A heavy media presence was there, and added security in the same area.

I hope things from here remain peaceful, as is the aim, as well as the continued voice and fight for Hong Kong democracy. In a world that seems so often politically apathetic, this protest has reminded me that people can stand up for things that matter, than mean something, with the right, motivated leaders.

I was sent this petition after posting some of my photos on Instagram - check it out and throw them some support.


  1. Great pictures!! I have been following the news about it quite closely as I currently live in Taiwan.

    1. Thanks Constance - I took loads, there were so many great things going on down there.
      Oh, I just visited Taiwan! Amazing place! So easy to travel to!

  2. It's so awesome to hear a perspective from someone who is actually there. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Oh, thank you! I was so excited to be there at the right time, and so keen to share it out to people! The world should see more of this!

  3. We were just there this past week, walking the same streets. We also saw a cardboard cutout of President Xi Jin Ping carrying an umbrella--a pretty powerful image in this context, we thought!

    1. Awesome - so much of the art is so, so clever! Will be interesting to see where all this art creation goes....


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