written by Gigi….
Today marks the 18th week of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, and we have lived here since week 9.
This week is the first time a protestor was shot by the police. The 17 year-old high school student is still being treated in the hospital.
It’s also the first time in over 50 years that the city government called upon Emergency Measures to pass a new law overnight through executive power. It is now illegal to wear masks during unapproved public gatherings. For perspective, masks are commonly worn for health reasons such as feeling ill, worried about getting sick, or on a bad pollution day. Wearing a mask has also become a common attire of the protestors to prevent being identified and to reduce the effects of tear gas routinely used by the police.
Soon after the announcement of this new law, groups of radicals rampaged subway stations and storefronts of pro-Chinese government businesses. Masks continued to be worn, police were mostly out of sight (odd? or planned? no one knows for sure), and there are no signs of enforcement of the new law.
After a rough Friday night, the entire city’s subway system is shut down on Saturday, together with many major shopping malls and chain stores. Our family took a short walk to a nearby neighborhood, Whampoa, for lunch, and joined the many that are stocking up on food and supplies.
The pictures below show the damage that we saw. The first three pictures are franchises run by Maxim (including Starbucks) whose founder’s daughter blasted pro-democracy protestors at the UN. The middle three show another target — shops that have “China” in their name. The Last three show the Whampoa MTR (subway) entrances – the MTR authority has frequently shutdown stations to prevent the protestors from gathering and escaping.
Seeing the damage in a nearby neighborhood up close hit me hard… We teach our children to use words, not force; to exercise restraint and come up with constructive solutions, not to lash out or escalate… Clearly the city is experiencing the opposite – not only by the protestors but also the police force (Update: I did recently learn about a small civil group called “Protect the Children”, organized by a local pastor, who wear yellow vests and try to deescalate tense situations in the midst of crashes).
Many Hong Kongers are furious at the police force and at the government; feeling that the authorities aren’t listening to the people and imposing laws that are making matters worse. Others are mad at the violent protestors, and their outward disobedience to the police force. Most if not all are tired of the unrest, frustrated by the conflicts, and want a peaceful resolution.
From my vantage point, I don’t see a civic way out of the situation. Something extraordinary, almost miraculous, needs to happen for a happy ending….