All We are Saying is Give Peace a Chance

A tent city has sprung up beneath banners celebrating the 65th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.
A tent city has sprung up beneath banners celebrating the 65th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.

Occupy Central-8It has been over month since the Occupy Central protests began and life in Hong Kong is gradually returning to normal. Crowds have thinned and many roads have re-opened but there is still a stalemate between the protesters and the government.

The entire process has been extremely dignified and well organised. In Admiralty, there is a tent city where there is usually a busy thoroughfare. Protesters work or attend classes by day and return to the streets at night to let it be known that they want a genuine democracy for Hong Kong.

With few exceptions, the activists, police and the government have all shown extraordinary restraint. One night in Admiralty, we witnessed a man attempting to dismantle a barricade. Each time he removed an object, the protesters would calmly replace it. This went on for about 25 minutes until someone started to shout at the man. Rather than trying to prevent the man from removing the barricade, the protesters restrained the person who was shouting at him because they did not want trouble. There have been reports of altercations with Anti-Occupy groups and clashes with police, especially in Mon Kok across Victoria Harbour in Kowloon, but overall the demonstrations have been surprisingly peaceful.

John Lennon's words live on at the site of the protests.
Lyrics from John Lennon’s “Imagine” are displayed at the site of the protests.
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One phenomenon that has sprung up is street art in various forms expressing the will of the dissidents and vilifying the government. Some of it is humorous; some of it is militant; all of it articulates their quest for peace and democracy.
More protest art: two stick figures constructed from broken umbrellas sit beneath a tall structure made from umbrellas.
More protest art: two stick figures constructed from broken umbrellas sit beneath a tall structure made from umbrellas.
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Thousands of Post-it notes line a stairway in Admiralty.
The notes show support from all over the world.
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“Together we are invincible!” stands out in a sea of “Post-its.”
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Encouragement from France.
I couldn't resist addiing my own Post-it.
I couldn’t resist addiing my own Post-it.

While the movement has garnered support from around the world, the citizens of Hong Kong are anxious to get back to normal life. As idealistic as it sounds to fight for democracy, patience is wearing thin. Many here have had their livelihoods compromised because tourism is down and a drastic decline in business has left some small shopkeepers struggling. Some are just exasperated by traffic jams and truncated bus schedules. The already congested roads are clogged as drivers must circumvent streets blocked by barricades. In Causeway Bay, a bustling retail area, there are more tourists taking pictures of protesters than there are protesters but the roadblocks remain.

It looks like not everybody is in agreement.
It seems as if not everybody agrees with the protesters.

The police are in a difficult position because, until recently, sentiment was on the side of the activists. However, recently petitions in support of the police have begun to circulate. Government leaders say they want to take the discussions to the conference table rather than continuing the standoff and many people here feel like the only way to break the impasse is with diplomacy and statesmanship. With no real hope of China relenting, the prevailing attitude here is that they have made their point and gained a voice on the world stage. A peaceful end to a commendable effort is the best they can hope for.

What do you think of the protests and how will it end? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Umbrellas in the shape of Hong Kong’s symbolic Grand Bauhinia form a clever logo for the movement.
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Twelve foot tall “Umbrella Man” presides over the scene of the protests.
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The protests have completely taken over the roadway in a very busy part of town.
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A makeshift altar is tucked in the midst of all the tents.
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There is a library and students keep up with their homework while attending protests.

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A cable news truck and a pile of trash collected by the students tells a lot of the story.
A cable news truck and a pile of trash collected by the students tells a lot of the story.

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