Hold on to that Lion Rock spirit, Hong Kongers!
Don't let the sun set prematurely on your life :(
A 21-year-old woman fell to her death today. Before doing so, she wrote a message, written in red, on the walls of the 24th floor of the building from which she is presumed to have jumped off, indicating that her death was a protest against the proposed extradition bill that still has not been withdrawn by Carrie Lam's administration despite the clear and strong indications of it being opposed by many people living in Hong Kong (and also abroad).
I spent a good part of June 12th worried that some protesters would be killed by the violence inflicted on them by the Hong Kong police after officers wielding batons and firing not only rounds of pepper spray and tear gas but also rubber bullets and bean bag rounds unleashed a truly excessive amount of force on unarmed people. As a consequence of the police brutality who many of us got to know about and see in close to "real time" (via some pretty heroic and incredible reportage by local and international journalists and others on the scene), I found myself worrying that something akin to the June 4th Massacre will occur on the streets of Hong Kong in the near future.
This horrifying thought -- coupled with those concerning the death of Hong Kong as we know (and love) it should the extradition bill be passed -- has made me far more moody than usual as well as downright depressed on a number of days and nights this June. Early on, my inclination was to stay at home (and away from other people) and addictively check the news to assuage my fears of any deaths occuring and violence erupting in this amazing city which I've long considered to have an incredibly high level of personal safety, for women and children as well as men. However, I've since realized that's not a healthy coping strategy -- and have gone back to going out and spending time with people whose company I enjoy, visiting places in Hong Kong that I like and love, and generally reminding myself why I love living in this part of the world.
This was thanks in part to seeing Facebook posts by protest organizers and such about how to better deal with the stress and depression that many Hong Kongers have been experiencing in recent weeks. In addition, I thought it good timing indeed that the Guardian put up a piece entitled "Don't give up! How to stay healthy, happy and combative in impossible political times" just a little more than a week after reporting on the police violence that broke out in Hong Kong!
Sadly, in between the two Guardian pieces I mentioned in the previous paragraph, a 35-year-old man plunged to his death after unfurling a banner on the front of a prestigious mall at Admiralty with the following words: "No extradition to China, total withdrawal of the extradition bill, we are not rioters, release the students and injured, Carrie Lam step down, help Hong Kong, make love, no shoot!" His case is being treated by the police as a suicide but there also is the possibility that he accidentally fell from the construction scaffolding he had been on.
In the thought-provoking Ten Years, a Hong Kong short-film omnibus released in 2016 which imagined what Hong Kong would be like in 2025, there is a section which features two protester deaths. We've now seen two actual protester deaths this eventful month. Here's hoping they will be the last arising from the protests against the proposed extradition bill that has made some people so desperate and upset -- in addition to these protests bearing fruit in terms of such as the bill's complete withdrawal, and sooner rather than later; this not least because death is not the answer, and there's much still in Hong Kong that should get people feeling that life is very much worth living.