Wednesday, June 16, 2021

On the second anniversary of the biggest ever protest march in Hong Kong

On the march with an unprecedently large number 
of Hong Kongers on a hot afternoon two years ago today
Day had turned into night when a group of friends and I
got to Admiralty that day -- and yet so many others weren't done yet!

Two years ago today, some 2 million people took to the streets of Hong Kong to demonstrate against Carrie Lam's proposed China extradition bill and Carrie Lam herself. I know that number sounds improbably large but look at this time lapse video of the June 16th, 2019 march and I think you'll believe it. And this especially when I tell you that it actually took around seven hours of real time for me to walk from Victoria Park to Admiralty that day as a result of the protest route being so jam-packed with fellow protestors.
On that day, as is often the case at Hong Kong pro-democracy (camp) protests, I saw young, old and middle-aged people in the crowd; pregnant mothers, fathers carrying their young children, people with walking sticks, people in wheelchairs, etc. I must admit that the sight of the people in wheelchairs out there almost invariably brings tears to my eyes. Truly though, I salute everyone who was out there that June 16th (and, for that matter, June 9th, etc.) -- and will say that these people and the Hong Kong spirit they embody are big reasons why I still do f**king love Hong Kong.
For those who are wondering: no, there were no commemorations of this event with a street protest in Hong Kong today.  But I'm sure many people did think back to the remarkable event that took place two years ago at some point today -- with a number of people recalling their participation in what really was a great effort on the part of so many Hong Kongers on social media (e.g., here and here).
I don't think I'll ever tire of seeing the many photos, videos and posts today about the biggest ever protest march in Hong Kong history -- one which was super peaceful to boot.  It warms the cockles of my heart to be reminded of a time not so long in the Big Lychee where freedom of assembly, protest and speech existed.  And I really don't want to give up on the possibility that those days will return.  
Just last night, I witnessed a friend of mine tear up as we passed by PolyU and memories of the 2019 protests that he took part in came flooding back -- not only because he was saddened by what had happened at that university but, also, because he was fearful that all our efforts have been in vain.  And I have to say that it was quite the mood dampener to see an article about Hong Kong in The Guardian this morning with "the fall of Hong Kong" in its title.    
Of course there's no doubt that Hong Kong is a far more oppressed society now than it was two years ago.  But, truly, I am getting fed up with all those headlines announcing the fall and/or death of Hong Kong.  The same article's headline also has the word "silence" in it, with the implication being that Hong Kongers have been subdued.  But less than two weeks ago, the same British newspaper had a piece on how Hong Kongers had found new ways to remember the Tiananmen Square Massacre of June 4th, 1989!   
Speaking of remembering: Last night, a good number of people -- all of whom undoubtedly knew that they were risking being fined, even arrested -- went to Admiralty to pay tribute to pro-democracy protester Marco Leung on the second anniversary of his death; a testament to Hong Kongers' enduring collective memory and spirit of resistance.  I realize it may seem strange to some people but I'll state it again (just as I did so around this time last year): mourning is a form of resistance in a Hong Kong that is under siege but really should not be dismissed as fatally down and out -- not when we who love Hong Kong, and believe that our voices should be heard, remain the majority in this part of the world that we call home.          

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