Under the Umbrella Revolution

After two and a half months of revolt and demands in Hong Kong, the only traces left of what could be considered the most important resistance movements against the Chinese Government since Tiananmen in 1989 are a few stickers demanding universal suffrage.

Student leaders and other citizens decided at the end of last September to stand up to the ruthless Asian Giant steamroller by occupying key sites of Hong Kong to demand their universal rights. They were acting in the wake of movements such as the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street or the Spanish 15 May Movement, known as the Spanish Revolution.

Public outrage was sparked by the electoral reform undertaken by the National People's Congress (NPC) of China curtailing further the right to nominate and elect the representative of the Hong Kong Government, and reneging on the promise of universal suffrage for the 2017 elections. This goes against the principle of "One Country, Two Systems", agreed at the time of the British handover of the territory to China between London and Beijing, that gave Hong Kong far greater autonomy than any other administrative region in the People's Republic of China.

It all began when the Students' Federation "Scholarism" and the movement Occupy Central, founded by academic circles and NGOs, initiated different actions to show their outright opposition to the new restrictive policy imposed by China. However, it was not until the police used tear gas to disperse the peaceful protesters from the Admiralty, on September 28th, that public outrage broke out. To protect themselves from tear gas cans, protesters decided to use umbrellas, unaware that, with this gesture, they were scaling their demands to a different level of action to what become known as the "Umbrella Revolution".

Following the fateful tear gas day, student leaders, such as Joshua Wong, influential media people, such as Jimmy Lai, and citizens in general carried out a peaceful occupation of the business district, as a political means of confronting the state's inaction in meeting citizens' demands.

After 82 days of occupation and confrontation, with forces divided amongst some sectors of the Movement, and a diminishing support of a population not used to protests, the Island`s Executive, that favored the Chinese government's plans, took advantage of these circumstances and put an end to the revolt removing the remaining bastions of protestors. However before they could do it, all these unknown citizens, students, professors, journalists, consultants, sound technicians, construction workers made it crystal clear to the Chinese government that they could not be forced to yield in their quest for more political freedom and greater democracy, and that they share the same goal; as they say: "This is not the end, it's only the beginning, We'll be back"!

© Borja Sánchez-Trillo y Antolín Avezuela (Cariz Project)