Hong Kong 07 Oct 2014 08:25
A new era of disobedience in Hong Kong started 4 days after a student strike was officially declared on September 22. On Friday 26, supporters of the Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement occupied government headquarters. Their discontent began when China refused to reconsider the existing Hong Kong electoral reform. Protesters began to demand that people to freely choose the city's next leader in 2017. Even though the upcoming election would allow Hong Kong citizens to vote for the first time, the current system restricts the number of candidates, who need to secure support from at least 50% of the 1,200 members on a nominating committee. Their numbers will be capped in any given race at two or three candidates. Hong Kong has enjoyed political autonomy and freedom since its return from British to Chinese rule in 1997 under a formula known as "one country, two systems." Chinese leaders agreed then that the chief executive would be chosen by "universal suffrage" in 2017 but Beijing has not kept its promises. The historical, unprecedented and massive occupations in Hong Kong Island and Kowloon want to put pressure on the government by limiting the city's capabilities and commerce. Seeking for "true" universal suffrage and democracy in a peaceful and organized manner, protesters barricaded themselves in key touristic and economic areas. Protestors conveniently armed themselves with umbrellas, which subsequently became the rallying symbol with the catchy name Umbrella Revolution, to deflect volleys of pepper spray by police and as protection in sunny and wet weather. An overwhelmed police force and government have shown their lack of experience in handling peaceful protestors when they resorted to what some are calling unnecessary force on September 28 when 87 cans of tear gas were fired. Many citizens are starting to question whether protestors can maintain their momentum and keep putting pressure on the government or if civil disobedience may backfire and cause waves of hatred between anti- and pro-Occupy movement citizens. Whatever the result may be after the demonstrations, a new era in Hong Kong may be on the horizon.