Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Umbrella Revolution

Long Lee
Professor Davis
Poli 337

The Umbrella Revolution

The Umbrella Revolution began in the end of September in 2014 and lasted until the beginning of December of the same year. Throughout the movement, several major roadways were blocked and barricaded by the people of Hong Kong in an effort to get the government to hear their demands. The protestors operated under the concept of “non-violent disobedience” and simply camped out on the major roadways. However, the Hong Kong government chose to ignore any of the protestors’ requests. Additionally, the government authorized the use of excessive force upon the protestors almost immediately after the protests started. Several of the protestors were beaten and badly hurt. Many were hospitalized and some even beaten to the extent of being put into a coma. Pepper spray and tear gas were used to herd the protestors away in addition to riot shields and beating.

The reasoning for the protest stemmed from China’s persistence on having candidates for Hong Kong’s upcoming 2017 election for chief executive all go through a screening process. According to the contract drafted between Britain and China in 1997 when the territories of Hong Kong were given to China, China and Hong Kong were to operate as “one country; two systems.” Hong Kong was to retain its autonomy and be free from any form of political influence from China for the next 50 years. Insisting that candidates go through a screen process was seen by Hong Kong as a breach of the contract. However, what it more importantly represents is the beginning of China’s influence into Hong Kong. On July 1st, 2047, after the 50 year period of political immunity, China will be given complete control of Hong Kong’s politics and rights. The greatest fear of Hong Kong and its people is that China will assimilate Hong Kong into itself thereby stripping Hong Kong of the identity it once had.

Two of the sites where major roadways being blocked were the Mong Kok area and the Admiralty area. The Mong Kok area was an extremely aggressive site with signs of aggression from both sides. Protestors showed great resistance towards cops by refusing to leave their stops. Protestors all wore helmets and had make shift shields and umbrellas to protect them from the police officers’ aggression. They also wore saran wrap over their bodies to protect from substances the officers would use. From the police officer’s side, they used excessive force on defenseless citizens. While the Admiralty site was more peaceful, there were still injustices that occurred. The protestors were much less aggressive than the Mong Kok area and had that taken advantage of by the police officers. The officers would often launch surprise attacks where they would run at protestors in formation when least expected to force them to move. In both sites, the police officers treated the protestors almost as if they were inhuman. Officers would bet and harass them constantly and herd them around to get them to end the protests as if they were animals.

When the protests at both the Mong Kok and Admiralty sites were finally quelled, nothing was accomplished. The government did not pay any attention to the requests of the people and acted rashly and with brute force in order to silence them. The protestors themselves were also very brash and did not think their ideas through. The movement itself was only back by a small percentage of Hong Kong people; most of them being high school and university students that just wanted a change. Both sides of this movement showed injustices but it is still clear that it was the side of the protestors that received the crueler injustices.

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