PHOTO ESSAY: Hong Kong dreams of democracy

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PHOTO ESSAY: Hong Kong dreams of democracy

Priyanka Boghani looks at a new side of the city she grew up in, with streets full of protesters.

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© Priyanka Boghani

More than a week ago, the Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP) movement (or the campaign of civil disobedience) went through the city where I grew up. Usually, there are busy trams, taxis, cars, green-and-red minibuses and yellow buses. But now there are many people dreaming of democracy.

They want something that China promised Hong Kong when the UK passed Hong Kong back to China: votes for all. Recently, the Chinese government said that Hong Kong would not get the right to vote for their Chief Executive until a Beijing committee approves the candidates. So many people, mostly students are protesting – it’s the only way to get people to listen.

It’s an almost perfect peaceful protest. They put their rubbish in organized recycle bins, there are blue tents with food and medical supplies, and when it’s too hot, students use spray guns with water to cool the other protesters.

Outside the government’s office, is the ‘Lennon wall’, with many written notes of encouragement. There are umbrellas, a projector showing messages for Hong Kong’s protesters from around the world and posters with quotes from famous freedom fighters from around the world. There are large banners across footbridges with words from songs in Les Miserables: ‘Do you hear the people sing?’

The streets are like a cultural exhibition.

Most symbolic is the umbrella. They have protected protesters when police used teargas and pepper spray on Day One, and from rain and hot sun. There are many umbrellas along the roads. Students sleep under them, one is on a statue, a student held one over a police officer in the rain.

There have been small fights too. Over the weekend, gangs with blue ribbons went through the crowds in Mong Kok, a district in Hong Kong’s Kowloon area, and destroyed the tents of protesters.

Police and Hong Kong’s current Chief Executive, CY Leung, said they would to use force if the streets were not cleared near the government offices.

Today, there are not so many protesters. Some are there for part of the day, some go home, shower or go to class or work. There are private negotiations, but there is still strong determination on the streets.

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Priyanka Boghani

Tens of thousands of people outside Hong Kong government offices in Admiralty on 29 September, filling the street.

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Priyanka Boghani

On the morning of 30 September, protesters, after sleeping there, used umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun in Causeway Bay. ‘I’m missing my class this morning because my friends here need numbers in the morning. Many people go home in the morning for a shower,’ said an 18-year-old student.

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Priyanka Boghani

The protest sites are a cultural exhibition, a project showing messages from people all around the world. ‘At the moment, we’re not afraid of what CY Leung says. We’re all together, that’s what’s important,’ said Ling, a 21-year-old student whose mother told her many times to come home and go to school.

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Priyanka Boghani

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Priyanka Boghani

The umbrella-man statue and Isaac, aged 24, next to it with his law books. He works in the first aid camp. ‘I’m now feeling quite pessimistic about the result of these protests. I hope there is progress from this discussion with the government,’ he says.

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Priyanka Boghani

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Priyanka Boghani

The demonstrators clean everything, recycle waste and make sure that the streets that they’re sleeping on are clean.

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Priyanka Boghani

Usually a busy street – now a four-way pavement. One person said, ‘Some parts of Hong Kong look like the end of the world. Does this mean the end is coming? The end of Hong Kong’s one-country, two systems.’

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: http://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2014/10/08/honk-kong-protest/ (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).