A bulletin blog from Hong Kong in these days would be incomplete without talking about the now famous "Umbrella Revolution". The scene in Hong Kong over the past week has gone from chaos to calm and back again, as tensions grow and pro-democracy throngs clash with pro-government demonstrators.
|Iconic image from the Hong Kong unrest|
It all started on Sept. 26, when hundreds of students gathered in Central Hong Kong, demanding democracy. For more than 150 years, Hong Kong belonged to Britain. Then in 1997 Britain handed the thriving metropolis back to China in a political deal called “One Country, Two Systems,” which allowed Hong Kong to retain some of the freedoms and independence mainland Chinese people do not have, such as freedom of the press and the right to assemble. The people of Hong Kong would even be allowed to elect their own leader in 2017.
|Tens of thousands of protesters on street|
But this summer China started to backpedal. It announced to Hong Kong that those elections could proceed only if the Chinese government approved all the candidates. To the people of Hong Kong, that meant they wouldn’t have much control over their own government after all.The students hit the streets, and thousands from Hong Kong rushed to join them in the days that followed. The Chinese government and the protesters have dug in their heels, and negotiations have failed. Now counter-protests from pro-government residents are complicating the situation.
|Police had to use force, at times|
But the actual reasons for the unrest that is building momentum are seen as more of economical than of political. The glaring gap between the powerful business tycoons who in fact control the socio-economic-political structure of Hong Kong and the middle and lower middle class of the society is widening by leaps and bounds. Students from the Universities and many schools have hit the streets in large numbers, braving both the pepper sprays and battons of the police forces as well as the sporadic violent retaliations from the pro-government groups, for reasons that are more than political. What bothers them most perhaps is the frightening gap between the affluent and the have-nots.
|...and an Umbrella for the Police in rain!|
History has seen many a revolution in every part of the world, but the one now unfolding in Hong Kong is one of its kind for reasons more than one. Here the protesters are equipped with their mighty weapon: Umbrella! Indeed it defended them on the streets from the drenching rain and the scorching sun and more importantly for them, from the pepper-sprays from the police. Chanting hymns, clapping hands and professing non-violence, students in Hong Kong have caught the imagination of the world. Where in a revolution have we seen the protesters cleaning up the garbage and study-sessions held on streets? How long will it go on? Only time will prove...