City On Fire

Chaos in Hong Kong, streets set ablaze with wildfire, government buildings destroyed. The people of this city have been on edge throughout the hot summer. The situation right now is critical, government has lost control of the majority of the people. While most of the protests started out peacefully, sit-ins at parks, marches on the streets. But recently, police brutality and other factors have turned these protests violent, in the past few weeks, the people have formed their own small militia and have been equipped with gas masks and petrol bombs, now, violent protests occur daily. The city is on complete lockdown, police searches occur frequently, even on children. Though it is not official, Hong Kong is no different from a city under martial law.

This siege first began in June of 2019, where over a million marched against the newly established government bill which stated that criminal suspects could potentially be extradited to China. This came as a surprise to the people of Hong Kong as it threatened their independence. During the 1997 Sino-British Joint Declaration to hand Hong Kong back to China, one of the were “Hong Kong will enjoy a high degree of autonomy until the year 2040.” The new government bill threatened this agreement, by passing this bill, the people of Hong Kong fear that it will give China too much power, and no one, even the innocent, will be safe from China’s corrupt extradition bill. Many extremists took this as an opportunity to act, rallying the entire city against the government and organizing frequent protests where at some times, millions would show up in support.

People of Hong Kong fighting against heavily armed police with umbrellas despite being attacked with pepper spray and tear gas  

In the first few weeks of this situation, protests were mainly calm, people huddled in parks and demonstrations occurred on the main roads, but things were about to escalate quickly. After the first few weeks, police brutality was occurring throughout the city, people were furious and fought back twice as hard. People started arming themselves with gas masks and even charging at armed police in unison with nothing but umbrellas. Joshua Wong, an activist group leader in Hong Kong commented on the situation, “It’s time to let Emperor Xi (Chinese President Xi Jinping) be aware that now is our battle, …We stand in solidarity, we stand as one.” This suggests that they will not give up easily and will not be intimidated by Beijing.

The old Hong Kong colony flag placed on display in the parliament office to show Hong Kong has not submitted to China

The climax of these series of events came on July 1st, when thousands of protesters stormed the main government building of Hong Kong and defiled it, breaking anything they could, spraying graffiti on well respected Chinese leaders and even tearing off parts of walls, there were so many people the police were told to abandon the building. This act was significant for two reasons. Firstly, traditionally when the capital building of a city is sacked, it signifies the end of a regime, to the people of Hong Kong, the government is not in control anymore. Secondly, when the people took over the government building, the British/Hong Kong colony flag was put in parliament’s main office, and shown to the world. This showed to not only China but the entire world that Hong Kong was not ready to submit to a communist regime.

Since then, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has made a formal apology and temporarily retracted the bill “I personally have to shoulder much of the responsibility. This has led to controversies, disputes and anxieties in society. For this, I offer my most sincere apology to all the people of Hong Kong.”

After two months of fierce clashes between the People and the police. This apology, however, has come too late, new problems have now raised and protest have seemed to have gotten even more violent than ever. Carrie Lam’s support is rapidly dwindling as more and more protests occur daily.

.           The people of Hong Kong have taken it upon themselves to save the city and have made a list of five demands that they wish to be upheld by the government and police. The first demand is to fully withdraw the Bill, many protesters were unsatisfied with the apology, saying that it was too little too late, and that shelving the bill meant that it was not gone for good. The second demand is A commission of inquiry into alleged police brutality. The Third, Retracting the classification of protesters as “rioters”. The fourth, Amnesty for arrested protesters. The fifth, Dual universal suffrage. So far, only one of these five demands have partially been granted.

Even though the Bill has been lifted, daily clashes have been occurring. People are getting more resourceful, they have set up their own underground hospital, and have started using molotovs and hand made petrol bombs. This is unlikely to end soon, and likely to escalate if no one takes action. The people of Hong Kong have shown the world nothing is stronger than the will for freedom and the strength of an entire city in unity.

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