Solidarity and Division Among Hong Kong People in the Occupy Movement: Reflection from a Hong Kong Catholic Perspective
Tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong took to the streets to demand democracy at the end of September 2014. Not only did the firing of tear gas by the police astonish the world, but the courage of Hong Kong people striving for democracy impressed the international community. Such a social movement has not been seen in the past 30 years in Hong Kong. From student strikes to a mass assembly outside the government headquarters, to the escalation of the protests into a large-scale occupy movement after the use of tear gas, and the tenacious resistance of the protesters even in the face of violence and abuse of police power—all these show the fortitude and persistence of the participants of the occupy movement, or as it is known, the Umbrella Movement, which lasted for 79 days in Admiralty, Causeway Bay, and Mong Kok, three busy districts of Hong Kong. I will use “occupy movement” in the lowercase, as it is called by people local to Hong Kong to describe how several districts in Hong Kong were physically occupied by protesters, interchangeably with the capitalized “Umbrella Movement,” although for the sake of convenience, the demonstrators will be called the “Occupy protesters.” As I note later on, the lowercase “occupy movement” may be somewhat indebted to the movement called “Occupy Central with Love and Peace,” which started in 2013, but the occupation of the Umbrella Movement in 2014 was not led by the 2013 organizers; in fact, many have remarked that the occupy movement had no clear leader. With the clearance of these sites by police, the movement seems to have come to an end. However, since the Hong Kong government did not reply to the movement’s demand for genuine universal suffrage, the struggle for democracy will certainly continue.