Mass Protests in Hong Kong as China Celebrates their National Day

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Today, on the 1st of October 2019, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) celebrate their 70th anniversary. As Hong Kong is a special administrative region (SAR), the Chinese National Day is a public holiday in the city, spurring an intense city-wide protest, shutting down multiple MTR stations and public malls. 

The protests for freedom in Hong Kong have been ongoing for over six months, with demonstrations on a weekly basis all over the city but as China celebrates their national day Hong Kongers are taking a stand in the hopes of humiliating Beijing and the arguably inhumane iron fist the state holds over Hong Kong. The animosity between the HKSAR government and their inhabitants is growing every day that passes without Carrie Lam’s recognition of the ‘five key demands, not one less‘ posed by the protesters as part of the #FreeHongKong movement. Nevertheless,  today is a milestone of the anti-government movement as protestors expect China to try to censor oppositional voices.

Credit: Linnea Lagerstedt

The National Day of China in 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the Communist rule in the PRC, which in light of the protests have been frequently compared to the Nazi Party due to their treatment of Hong Kongers as well as Uighur Muslims.

Credit: Linnea Lagerstedt

Chief Superintendent  John Tse Chun-Chung  warned of serious violence and acts of terrorism prior to the event, causing multiple MTR stations around the city to be closed down starting with the first morning train at 05.30am. Currently, 19 stations of Hong Kong’s large and complex underground system are on lockdown to combat vandalism as well as violence towards staff and civilians.

Different pro-democracy demonstrations are happening all throughout Hong Kong, with larger protests occurring in Causeway Bay, Wanchai, Admiralty, Central, Shatin, Tsuen Wan and Wong Tai Sin. There are also ongoing protests in many of the city’s shopping malls which will be targeted for the protests, including New Town Plaza in Shatin, which was previously vandalised a mere week ago during a separate demonstration. Students in the area have been ‘strongly advised to stay away from the protests, avoid crowded places, be cautious at all times and leave the affected areas as soon as possible‘ as over 6000 police officers have been employed to combat the day’s proceedings.

The Hong Kong police, however, are an integral part of the problem. Multiple cases of police brutality during otherwise peaceful protests have fostered an environment in which the Hong Kongers also have taken more serious action. You do not have to look far around Hong Kong to find posters and graffiti stating a popular protest slogan: ‘You taught us that peaceful protests are useless‘.

While the morning of October 1st began peacefully, tear gas has since reportedly been fired in Wong Tai Sin at the same time as physical fights have taken place in Tuen Mun. The march, beginning in Wan Chai and set to end at the Sha Tin Racecourse in the hopes of disrupting the national day meeting has been lead and organised by the Civil Human Rights Front, but has been banned by the Hong Kong Police.

Nevertheless the illegal marches are continuing all over and have now gone to Beijing’s office in Hong Kong to show their disapproval of both Beijing and Hong Kong governments for their undemocratic processes. Hong Kongers have been seen lighting fire to portraits of both CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping and Chief Executive Carrie Lam as they urge them to step down from their positions in the name of democracy and freedom.

The protests intended to create a traffic jam leading to the airport but Wessex Scene was able to access the Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) this morning at 12.30 HK time without disruptions. The highways leading from the airport to the New Territories were also free of protests, and public transport seems to be the main target of the demonstrations.

While today’s protests main goal is to target the Chinese government and ruin their celebrations as well as their global reputation by highlighting their treatment of Hong Kong nationals, the general #FreeHK movement focuses on five main goals: Full withdrawal of the extradition bill, a commission of inquiry into alleged police brutality, retracting the classification of protesters as ‘Rioters‘, amnesty for arrested protesters, as well as Universal Suffrage.

It took 1183 protest related arrests for Lam to finally scrap the extradition bill which started the movement, and HK protesters are therefore now saying that this is not enough. Instead they are campaigning for the approval of all five key demands, and refusing to accept anything but those demands. Protesters have taken to social media to remind others not to stop their fight simply because one goal was met, and today serves to further the debate surrounding the Hong Kong and China

By nightfall of the 1st of October 2019, 51 people were harmed in the protests, leaving two protesters in critical condition, and two in serious condition. One 18-year old man was shot in the chest with live ammunition and it is still uncertain  whether the man will survive. The protests and the police fired shot are believed to cause an escalation in violence and backlash from protesters against the Hong Kong police and government. Wessex Scene are currently On The Scene in Hong Kong and will be updating this article and our website with further information on the protests as it occurs.

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Opinion Editor 19/20, Features Editor 18/19. Third year BA English Lit student with a passion for intersectional feminism, dogs and iced coffee, currently on a YA in Hong Kong.

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