The Umbrella Revolution is the large-scale protest movement in Hong Kong led primarily by university and senior high school students. The umbrella, in this civil resistance movement, is construed as a symbol after having been used for blocking the police’s pepper spray and tear gas. The movement leaders deny the movement as a “revolution” and simply call it a “movement”. However, Chinese leaders in various occasions have already linked the Hong Kong protests to a “colour revolution”. Students in this movement have asked for more democratic elements to be infused into future 2017 Hong Kong elections in order to make those genuine democratic elections.
The main demand is full democracy. Protesters want the right to nominate and directly elect the head of the Hong Kong government, known as the chief executive. As a secondary demand, protesters want the current chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, to resign, which he has flatly refused to do. China, which resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong after it stopped being a British colony in 1997, wants to screen who can stand for office. Beijing insists that candidates for the chief-executive position must be vetted by an electoral committee of tycoons, oligarchs and pro-Beijing figures.
The movement was initiated by a group called Occupy Central with Love & Peace, led by Hong Kong University law professor Benny Tai. They scheduled a non violent “civil disobedience” protest for Oct. 1, a national holiday to celebrate the People’s Republic of China if the plan for “universal suffrage” — one person, one vote — did not go ahead as promised. This started the movement known as Occupy Central with Love and Peace, in which residents of Hong Kong were urged to participate in peaceful protests to fight for the granting of full democracy by Beijing. But it took to the streets to join forces with student protesters.
Initially the rally began with a peaceful sit-in by university students outside Hong Kong’s city government headquarters in Admiralty, near the central business district, following the announcement of Beijing’s controversial plan for the 2017 election. After 60 people were arrested outside the government compound and many were doused with pepper spray. Over the weekend, the normal order of Hong Kong began to turn increasingly chaotic. As the crowd size swelled, people spilled onto major roads, blocking traffic. The police came out in force. A cloud of tear gas descended on the area, and riot police could be seen brandishing long-barrelled guns as they attempted to gain back control of the Central district.
Demonstrators handed out thousands of umbrellas, which quickly became the symbol of the protests. It became a symbol of defiance and resistance against the Hong Kong Police, and the united grass-roots objection to the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC).
Not everyone is a part of this revolution. People remember the bloody suppression of the Tiananmen uprising in Beijing in 1989. But whether the current occupations end peacefully, with a student withdrawal, or violently, with riot police sent in, one thing are certain: Hong Kong’s democratic movement is only just getting started.
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