Thursday, September 28, 2023

Remembering Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Movement”

Nine Years Ago
— On September 28, 2014, police fired tear gas at a peaceful protest in Hong Kong Central. For Hong Kongers, this was an unprecedented act of aggression by the region’s once-highly-respected and up-until-then-independent police force against its own people. In response to police violence, millions took to the streets in the ensuing days and weeks in what became known as the “Umbrella Movement.” 

Inspired by Ukraine’s Euromaidan protests earlier that year, Hong Kongers remained in the streets for more than two months, demanding political reforms as they saw their “guaranteed” special autonomous status being eroded by mainland China’s Communist PartyState. After peacefully disbanding in November 2014, the movement continued to work through the social and political process, only to be thwarted again and again by the increasing encroachment of Beijing’s “Lawfare” tactics, which ultimately led to the struggles throughout the city in 2019. The Pro-Democracy movement won an overwhelming victory in the November 2019 District Council elections, but—as we all know—other circumstances soon arose that “cleared the streets” globally. While the world sought solutions for a global crisis, Beijing imposed a new “National Security Law” in Hong Kong on June 1, 2020. The Repression of Hong Kong began in earnest.

There needs to be a dialogue about Hong Kong’s future, but dialogue is impossible if people are forbidden to speak freely. Let us remember this day, and pray for those who have been silenced, and especially for those who are in prison or on trial because their efforts to be heard were met with violence and repression.