HONG KONG, June 29 (Reuters) – When documentary filmmaker Kiwi Chow walked through a pedestrian tunnel in Hong Kong yesterday, He saw the cleaning team scrape the glue left by the illegal ads and mop the walls clean with a mop.
It reminds him of the day he became an activist during the pro-democracy protests that thrived in the Chinese-ruled city in 2019. Back then, he gathered with his youngest son and some friends to cover the wall. Another tunnel with a post-it message with political texts and drawings
“I am very happy. This is my first time being an organizer,” he said.
The next day, as he passed by Cleaners are removing a mosaic of notes that Hong Kong calls The “Lennon Wall” follows the original John Lennon wall in communist-controlled Prague in the 1980s covered in graffiti. Beatles lyrics and text of political grievances
his wife calls him He gathered some notes from the floor. “Choose as many as you can,” she told him, “bring back your son’s painting!”
Cleaners that day in August 2019 told Chow they needed to clear the tunnel walls and take pictures as evidence of their boss’ work. But then they told him he could put the Post-it on the other side of the tunnel.
For Zhou, that was the resistance of the cleaners. It was an experience that inspired him to pursue his own career in this regard.
“This is the spirit of Hong Kong,” he thought, and took out a camera to film the protest. He hopes to finish editing the documentary later this year.
Clearing Lennon’s Wall was the beginning of the “beautiful thing” being destroyed, he said.
“Of course, we get angry when the beautiful is gone. it is important And we need to remember But anger can also be transferred to persistence,” Zhou said, now 42. Lennon’s Wall in his The tunnel was demolished several times. but people create new
But today the Lennon Wall is gone. They have risked uniting since China introduced a national security law that came into force last year to crack down on what it considers subversion. separation terrorism and collusion with foreign forces that carry a life sentence.
Those who want a democratic future for the city are reuniting behind invisible front lines that are difficult to deter with tear gas and rubber bullets. But still, they say, under attack: a memory of what happened in 2019.
Democracy activists accused the authorities of trying to control the narrative. And they fear that future generations will only hear about government events: the 2019 protests were an illegal riot by a minority deceived by foreign forces. Undermining China’s growth under the successful leadership of the Communist Party
Public broadcaster RTHK has removed archives showing protests or criticizing the government. and check who has authority Encourage online activists to move backup copies to blockchain platforms
Authorities have announced some illegal slogans and songs. Remove or adjust sensitive topics in the school curriculum. and pulling Democracy books off the shelves of public libraries, cinemas, universities and art galleries, canceling screenings of protest-related films or exhibitions.
The Hong Kong government recently released new guidelines that allow authorities to censor movies on the basis of protecting national security. “Censors should be careful when portraying, depicting or treating any action or activity. and any content of the film which is objectively and reasonably perceived as supporting, encouraging, glorifying, encouraging or inciting such action or activity,” the guideline states.
Chinese authorities and local authorities have denied that liberties have been restricted. and said their actions were vital to protecting the red line of national security. restore stability and bring prosperity
In response to Reuters’ questions A government spokesman said “No civil society in the world has tolerated such violence and barbarism” as happened in what he called a “riot” in 2019, the government said. “There is no tolerance for illegal things. Act and condemn any attempt to glorify unlawful acts on the pretext of liberty and democracy.”
Regarding censorship rules, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said in June that her government must strike a balance between respecting freedom of creativity and protecting national security. and staff “Will discuss with industry to alleviate concerns and concerns.”
Broadcaster RTHK said the new archiving policy for the social media platform matches the guidelines for the official website. which stores items from the past 12 months And few media organizations keep all important documents permanently online.
“We cannot see how the archiving and arrangements policy for the RTHK on YouTube program relates to your story about the efforts of some people in Hong Kong to protect and maintain the 2019 version of social events,” the report said. specify
Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of China which is under the Council of State or the Cabinet and the Hong Kong Liaison Office The city’s leading Beijing agency did not respond to requests for comment.
It’s not just a battle for narrative: since the protests ended last year. The landscape of the city also changed. making familiar places unfamiliar
The pavement where protesters used to fire bottle bombs was surrounded by fences and barbed wire. Waterproof plastic surrounds and protects administrative buildings. Force pedestrians to cross or walk through narrow corridors between barricades and riot police.
Garbage bins all over the city which protesters use as shields It was replaced by a plastic bag hanging from a metal hoop. Sidewalks pave roads where protesters dug bricks to throw at police. repaired with concrete
“If Hong Kong is a person The ground is skin It’s like they’re having laser surgery,” said Jed Chung, a 24-year-old freelance journalist whose work focuses on human rights and the fight for democracy activists.
In addition to physical changes She said that after the government began cracking down on Many things are hard to say. That leads to a secret code of resistance to dictatorship, she said.
Recently, Chung asked for the Wi-Fi password at a small restaurant in Hong Kong, she got a much bigger response: 721831101.
July 21, August 31, and October 1 were the three most intense days of the 2019 unrest, a password linking Chung to the past. She felt the authorities were trying to rewrite it after taking control again.
“I guess it’s the only way we can express ourselves right now,” Chung said.
She wants to unlock a version of the events that will not be told in history lessons and are fading away from public discourse.
“We don’t want to remember. But do not dare to forget People do many things to protect our collective memory,” said Chung, contributor. “The Road to Hong Kong,” said a book about the protests, “we don’t forget, we may wait for an opportunity to do something.”
In the years since the introduction of the Security Law minutes before the July 1 anniversary of the return to Chinese rule. former British colony China has improved the city’s political system. by calling on everyone who holds office in public to have “Patriotism” and loyalty to Beijing Most opposition politicians and pro-democracy activists are imprisoned. new legal or for other reasons, trapped or deported
in the middle of April Hong Kong authorities have organized the “National Security Education Day” with school activities games and performances and police parades and other services that carried out a “goose step” march of the Chinese army
in schools and cultural centers Residents are invited to build a national security “mosaic wall”. Which is the 2019 version of Lennon Wall from top to bottom “Supporting national security legislation is not a problem. Support it! Support, support! I hope we can become one with the mainland,” a post-it wall set up at Wong Cho Bau High School read.
Children were given toy version of police guns and played with them under the watchful eye of police in riot gear. For many in Hong Kong, these are surreal shadow dramas of a live broadcast of a police officer getting on a train on August 31, 2019, pepper spraying and batons hitting a cow child. with batons
battle of symbols
The fight against governments in a arena of symbols, speech and culture is the aftermath of an increasingly chaotic battle in 2019, when bottles bombed almost daily for months in one of the world’s most peaceful cities. The activist said.
This was a fight that the officers were not ashamed of.
in early May while Herbert Zhou is ordering dinner. A police van also arrived at his new Chicky Duck shop in the Tsuen Wan district. Chow initially thought the authorities were there to enforce a COVID-19-related lockdown in a nearby building.
But the officers wearing vests The “Department of Security” began to surround the area around his shop, attracting a large curious audience. They go into the store, show them a search warrant, and start looking for items for sale.
“It was like they were raiding a bar for drugs,” Chow said, standing two meters near the chest of the protesters, wearing helmets, glasses and gas masks. and holding a yellow rubber duck over his head as if he were to throw a Molotov cocktail
Chow, 57, wore a long-sleeved shirt that reads “Unleash the sausages Vegetables of our time” and “Five meatballs without sauce” imprinted – idioms reflecting the protest slogan, e.g. “Liberate Hong Kong The Revolution of Our Time” and “five demands, no less.” He said he believed all his ducks were legally lined up.
Officials have said that the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong” is subversive and illegal. The claims will be tested in the coming months in court cases against motorcyclists arrested under the new law.
Chow also has “Be Water” beer. The product name refers to a protest tactic of playing cat and rats with the police to drain resources. Inspired by the words of Hong Kong martial arts legend Bruce Lee, he encourages fighters to continually adapt to their enemies.
Chow’s mockery of food did not result in any arrests or convictions. But the raid was enough to shock his two employees. who resigned after
“I was very angry, my anger level was 1 to 10, my anger level was 9,” he said. “What was left was the fear that they frightened my colleagues and made them resign. which they have accomplished.”
Police have said officers entered the store with a subpoena after receiving complaints that the store was suspected of violating national security laws.
Chow said he wanted his shop to become a place of hope.
“We want to tell people we still have spaces,” he said. “That’s because we see that they could change history.”
Filmmaker Chow said the children His is a true reminder of Hong Kong’s history: his son was born in 2014, the year the “Umbrella” protesters occupied the main artery of the financial district for 79 days. His daughter was born in 2019.
“The regime wants us to forget. I hope to use my camera to remember,” he said. “We are resisting in our memories. We are against forgetfulness.”
Reporting by Lam Yik and Jessie Pang; Arranged by Marius Zaharia and Kari Howard.
Our Standard: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles