Nonviolent protests in Hong Kong persist

A pro-democracy protester ties up a yellow ribbon to one of the fences blocking the access to Liaison Government Office during the rally in Hong Kong (9 November 2014)This past weekend marked the seventh week of nonviolent protests in Hong Kong advocating for full freedom in the 2017 elections for chief executive. Current Chinese policies enacted for the elections would present voters with a list of pre-screened candidates approved by authorities. Protestors object to the inherent restrictiveness of the government’s policies and demand civil nomination of candidates. The protests have gained notable international attention and recognition as the “umbrella revolution,” alluding to protestor’s use of umbrellas to block tear gas utilized by officials. Most recently, protestors organized a “yellow ribbon” march, in which participants tied yellow ribbons on the gates of the China liaison office, symbolizing the protestors’ calls for greater democracy in the upcoming elections. The confrontation of pro-democracy protestors and pro-government supporters outside of the executive office, proved significant yet quite characteristic of the relatively stable and nonviolent movement. The Hong Kong protests are credited with implementing groundbreaking techniques in nonviolent resistance. Large youth populations characterize the protests due to the grim economic prospects and lack of job opportunities for Hong Kong’s youth. Despite the heavy presence of youth protestors, the movement has been predominantly orderly and respectful. Participants have taken unprecedented measures to maintain the civility of the protests, even composting the peels of consumed bananas to use the resulting vinegar as solution for cleaning up following demonstrations. Tents for rent, public bathrooms stocked with shampoo and combs and recreational areas for studying, using the internet and socializing characterize the occupied streets where the protests occur. In addition, volunteers have been recognized for distributing water, biscuits and other necessities such as toiletries to protestors. The combination of the orderly and respectful nature of the protests in addition to the innovative displays of art, music and public speech have lead many to declare the current protest environment in Hong Kong as an almost functioning utopia of peaceful demonstration. Although the government has yet to concede to protestors’ demands, experts commend the civility of the movement and emphasize the importance of the protests remaining orderly and respectful for greater effectiveness. The main bargaining chip for protestors in Hong Kong with the government appears to be the disruption of economic activity and functioning of normal life, which could adversely affect the business and banking community. Although residents and officials and may be growing weary and tired of the presence of the protests in the occupied streets, groups like Occupy Central with Love and Peace, which have been pivotal in leading demonstrations are continuing to hold their ground and make peaceful advancements to greater democracy in Hong Kong.
Sources: Miquiabas, Bong. "Seven Weeks On, Hong Kong Protesters Remain Committed To Occupying Streets." Forbes. November 10, 2014. "Larry Diamond on Political Change in Hong Kong." Sinosphere Dispatches from China. October 30, 2014. Accessed November 10, 2014. Professional interview by Qitong Cao. Westscott, Lucy. "Hong Kong's Protesters Say Peaceful Resistance Is Key." Newsweek. September 29, 2014. Accessed November 10, 2014. "Hong Kong Protestors Carry out "yellow ribbon" March." Occupy Central with Love and Peace. November 10, 2014.

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