I was initially planning to publish a blog post about a book I read, but publishing this post now simply did not feel right. My cousin and I travelled to Hong Kong together last week and we are planning to spend a few weeks here as a summer vacation. As many of you know, I went to a boarding school in Hong Kong from 2016 to 2018 and I became very attached to the city. I have made some of the strongest friendships while I lived here, grew up a lot (though unfortunately not in physical size), learned to be independent, and became a more accepting and open human being. Hong Kong feels like a second home to me and I have always felt safe here.
I love lots of things about Hong Kong, but the feeling of being safe was definitely always on the list. Last night was the first time I felt like I should not go out in Hong Kong (if you have not kept up with the news about Hong Kong, I would recommend this video on the violence at a train station and this article on the recent protest). A local friend of mine texted me to stay in my hotel tonight because there was the suspicion that further violence could occur. I would never have thought that I would receive a text like this while being in Hong Kong. When you have always considered a city one of the safest places and almost blindly trusted its security measures, it is hard to reconcile that with a feeling of fear which can suddenly occur.
Protests against the extradition law had begun before I even started to pack my bags to go to Hong Kong and I remember feeling proud of Hong Kongers for standing up for their rights and freedoms. Although I was shocked by the inexcusable actions of those who stormed Hong Kong's Legislative Council, I nonetheless trusted that coming back here would be safe. I would never have thought that violence in a train station would be permitted to occur for so long that the perpetrators would have enough time to escape and hide.
What makes a democracy a democracy is not just your right to vote - it is your ability to exercise that right without fear. A lack of fear to exercise this right is characterised by being able to peacefully protest without fear among other things. Hong Kong did not live up to this characteristic on the night of July 21st. Please do not misunderstand this point - I am not trying to argue that the outbreak of violence at a train station meant the government and police failed people's freedom to peacefully protest without fear. Such violence is horrible and should never occur in the first place, but the police cannot see the future any more than we can and it would be unfair to blame the outbreak on them. But it is more than fair to blame them for their late response and the indirect permission to let the violence continue that was given through the late response. That is their fault and that is what scared me a lot. I have always trusted the police to keep us safe in this city, but the reports of the incident at Yuen Long Station made me question that trust. In a true democracy, you should not have to question whether you will be safe when protesting. And that extends to going home from a protest.
I hope that the horrible violence which occurred at Yuen Long Station does not deter people from using their voices to say how they feel about politics - democracies only work when people engage with politics. And I hope that the fear that some of us feel after this attack will not be forgotten, but leave our minds in time.
This blog is normally reserved for lighter topics, but I felt like I needed to talk about this because this has affected me a lot and I also wanted to use my platform to raise more awareness of this issue. I do not have a large audience on the internet - but the few thousand readers this blog has on a monthly basis should hear about this.
You are more than welcome to share your opinion on the topic with me here.
Lots of Love,