On Sunday night (September 28), after scrolling through miles of Facebook posts about incidents regarding to Occupy Central, I hesitantly posted a status update: “Students should not be so drastic, but the government should not be acting so violently in order to control the situation. No argument is one-sided.” I later expressed how I thought that the entire protest has been blown up to such an extreme and unnecessary level, and raised the question of whether or not it is really worth it.
The responses I've received since have not only made me uncomfortable, they’ve almost made me feel unsafe.
People began to question my understanding of the political system of the city I grew up in. A city which is famous for its safety, for its peace. They began questioning my knowledge of history, giving me lectures on how incredibly wrong I am. I felt like an outcast. It's as if anyone who had anything else to say rather than “I support Occupy Central” or “The government are devils” would immediately be frowned upon, because obviously you're not in support of your own city.
Annoyed, I raised the question: “If you all are fighting for democracy, why are you judging me for my opinions?”
That's the question they couldn't answer. And thus began my three days of furious ranting, emotional conflict, heartfelt sympathy, and finally, acceptance.
I’ll admit, for the last couple of days I hadn’t been in support of the protestors at all. The only emotion I felt for them was hatred. I couldn’t help but feel irritated when my brother had to stay home from school, and how my dance classes were cancelled. I didn’t understand how they could have the heart to completely stop Hong Kong from functioning. I thought that the blame on the policemen was ridiculous, how the “fight for freedom” quickly escalated into a mindless blame game. Everyone began bashing on the so-called violence of the police, focusing on officers abusing the protesters instead of showing the other side of the picture. In my mind, I supported the actions of the police. I had sympathy for them more than the protestors.
Check out our "Humans of Occupy Central" galleries to see who are on the streets and their reasons for being there.
On Sunday around midnight, I was video-chatting with a friend, whose parents happen to be police officers. Her dad came into her room and wearily said “I have to go to work”. My heart sank when her response was, “See? This is when things get personal.”
Her father didn’t come back home for two days. And that was enough for me to aim my boiling hot anger at all of the protestors who were standing there.
Every single one of them. People seemed to have forgotten that while the protestors were willing to be there, the policemen had to stand under the 30-degree celsius sun in their full uniforms, trying not to pop a nerve as young kids forcefully pushed towards them. Complaining about teargas? In any other countries, most of them would be shot dead by now!
I admit now that I was perhaps a little short-sighted in my reactions.
As more days passed, things began to calm down. That’s when the images of the kindheartedness of us “Hongkongers” began to circulate. Photographs showing signs written by protestors apologising for causing inconvenience, people hauling carts of food and water to protest locations to keep everyone going, and even when it rained, some students sharing their umbrellas with the officers on guard.
This protest may be one of the worst times that Hong Kong has been through, but it’s no doubt also one of the best.
I can’t help but feel amazed, seeing ordinary people who would usually ignore each other, finally come together as one to fight for what they believe in. Despite the teargas and pepper spray, I admire every single police officer who is willing to stand strong in order to protect our people; from the protestors, to the government, to folks who are just passing by.
After four long days, I’ve realised that this is the power of my city. This is the power of my home.
Until now, I’ve refused to place blame on the government, or China, or anyone. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no way of identifying who’s at fault. After all, what do we truly know about what’s going on in politics? For all I know, CY Leung may not be saying much, not because he’s a “coward”, but because there more complicated things that need to be dealt with at the moment.
At this point, all I can hope for is that everyone stays safe and violence will no longer be used, no matter if it’s from the protestors or the policemen; that people would keep the word “respect” in their mind at all times. I wish everyone would begin to gain more perspective to the situation, and understand that there are priorities in their lives as well. If your family is calling you to go home, go home. As all our grandparents have nagged to us at one point— you can’t do anything productive if you don’t have a healthy body.
More than ever, I wish this would all be over soon peacefully, and no matter what the outcome, that my home would still remain one of the most peaceful, beautiful cities in the world.
Godspeed, Hong Kong.
Also, take a look at the other two student blogs
- Charlotte Chan, German Swiss International School: Your protests have those of us who just want to work
- Jessie Pang, Baptist University: We have no choice, we have to stop the reform proposal