Boston Supporters Hold Event in Solidarity with the Hong Kong Democracy Movement
BOSTON/Boston Common – Hundreds of students and advocates of all ages gathered on Boston Common in the rain and cold on Wednesday evening to raise awareness and show support for the non-violent Occupy Central protest movement that is demanding free elections in Hong Kong.
“The goal of this event is to let everyone know what is happening in Hong Kong. We know things may not change overnight, but we want everyone to know we are desperate for a fair legislative system, “ said Ka Leung, a Hong Kong native currently living in Boston.
On August 31st, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, announced that citizens of Hong Kong would only be able to vote for officials that were pre-selected by a pro-Beijing nomination committee in the upcoming 2017 Hong Kong Chief Executive election (and the 2016 Legislative Council election), much to the dismay of many democracy supporters in the special administrative region of China.
A large movement to respect the letter of both the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 and the Hong Kong Basic Law and allow free elections for the chief executive of Hong Kong resulted after members of the pro-democracy student activist organization Scholarism were arrested while attempting to hold a small protest against the measure at the Central Government Offices in Hong Kong on September 27th.
On September 28th, Prof. Benny Lai of the University of Hong Kong - organizer of the pre-existing Occupy Central with Love and Peace movement - called for a new pro-democracy civil disobedience campaign at a protest organized jointly with the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism. However, according to Wikipedia “the unprecedented scale of demonstra and multiple congregation locations soon changed the Occupy Central movement into a non-centralized, self-managed horizontal structure.”
Major protests have continued unabated throughout Hong Kong in the days since, and have now sparked an international support campaign in dozens of cities around the world.
"Wear Yellow for Hong Kong"
At the Boston event, people showed support by sporting yellow clothing, candles, balloons, and ribbons – in a nod to the color of the democracy movement in Hong Kong. People were also holding large solidarity banners, photographs of which were sent to the Hong Kong protestors via social media.
Throughout the evening, participants were given the opportunity to address the crowd by microphone to voice their frustration with the situation and offer words of encouragement.
Angela Ka Wai Chan, one of the event organizers and a Hong Kong native, said she was frustrated with the international response, “Something really bad has happened in an ordinary society, and people need to know. Hong Kong needs to be part of the conversation regarding their own universal suffrage.”
Chan was not alone in her concern. Many people at the event expressed their wish to push the Hong Kong struggle into the global spotlight. Which is essentially how the Boston event came together, according to organizer Heather Pickerall.
Pickerall, a Harvard University student and the founder of the “Wear Yellow for Hong Kong” Facebook page, which now has close to 38,000 followers worldwide, said, “People reached out wanting to start an event like this in Boston to continue to raise awareness. Once I gave them a little nudge, they really took over the event. They planned it, they registered it with the city of Boston, and have really done a great job.”
Between speakers, a cheer in Cantonese which roughly translates to “We need real suffrage. And we should go for it!” rang through the crowd - along with a song that spoke of goals and dreams coming true.
The event concluded when the participants walked across the Boston Common to the Massachusetts State House and tied yellow ribbons to its gate.
Photo: Bram Samuel Berkowitz