I recently started writing a short, light-hearted political column for Hong Kong Time Out Magazine. Below is the uncut, original version…
Flying Freedom Kites.
20 years ago the central government crushed the world’s biggest peaceful pro-democracy movement in a violent crackdown on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square – thousands were killed and wounded. In the run up to the June 4th anniversary this year, I will be joining other activists to fly ‘kites for democracy’ this Sunday at Clearwater Bay Country Park, 2pm.
Between April and June, 1989, students in the capital sang the The Internationale, erected a Democracy Goddess statue and went on hunger strike. They also flew kites in an attempt to disrupt military helicopters, and it is this peaceful act which inspires Sunday’s HK Alliance-organised gathering.
As the anniversary nears, there will also be forums, a demonstration, lectures and a public petition organised by the HK Alliance (www.alliance.org.hk), which was formed just a few weeks after ‘6/4’. It comprises of over 200 members from political, labour, students, women and religious interest groups. The upcoming kite event is just one imaginative way in which they – along with other local groups like the Social Democrats and Tiananmen Mothers – attempt to ensure the fight for democracy in China stays in the headlines. Even as recent Chinese history remains absent from even Hong Kong’s schoolbooks, these groups are proof that grassroots efforts can have a worldwide impact.
Tens of thousands gather in Victoria Park every June 4th for the Alliance candlelit vigil, but it is easy for us, our leaders (and particularly the likes of Jackie Chan last month) to forget what our unique city is all about. Many Hong Kongers are descended from those who fled repression in the mainland and thus we have a duty to defend our mini-constitution, protect our liberties from erosion and press for the democracy promised to us in 2017. Being the only place in China where self-expression is legal (just about), we’re also morally obliged to ensure that the crackdown is never forgotten. The world will be watching.
– click to view