For seven days we marched, chanted, sang. It was a huge step a leap of faith for many of us, why? Because for so long we have been just another Ethnic Minority, another colour to add to HK, another culture or just a face in the crowd. We are ethnic minorities, sometimes seen as second class citizens, sometimes seen as newly arrived immigrants, welfare hoggers, smelly, trouble makers etc, criminals. We have been through it all, heard it all and seen it all.
But this time it was different, seeing that unforgettable Sunday when tear gas and pepper spray was indiscriminately unleashed on Hongkongers . It shocked many of us in the ethnic minority communities, our peaceful students, youngsters and locals were out there asking for the government to come out and answer the public to show their disappointment at the way that have been misrepresented. But instead they were ignored and attacked, and pushed back.
Then a few of the local born ethnic minority’s the 2nd 3rd generations, the ones brought up with the values and freedoms of the modern democracy of Hong Kong decided to bravely join and support our fellow Hongkongers. This was no easy step, we knew we are taking huge risk; we will be easy targets, with our appearance and features unlike the local Chinese population. But we needed to make a stand; we needed to support our fellow local brothers and sisters who are out there sacrificing everything in order to safeguard our values, freedoms and rights. To ensure a truly democratic government, representing the views and ideals of the Hong Kong public.
Together with some ethnic minority’s friends who are already from diverse backgrounds, religions and cultures, which in itself is remarkably unique. We decided we will join this protest but with a different motto and our own style. The core principle remains that we will gather peacefully, refrain from any physical actions that may provoke negative reactions and also go with the aim to show solidarity with those who are staying overnight.
We printed colorful banners, with words of encouragement, with slogans of pride of being Hongkongers with the Hong Kong flags on them. We printed flyers with reminding them of the quote from John F Kennedy (JFK) ‘If not us, who? If not now, when?’ Stand up! Speak up! We are Hong Kong! As a member of the ethnic minority community we knew that we will be getting a lot of attention, which could be both positive and negative, we weren’t to know until we tried. The first day as we anxiously gathered at central about 20 of us showed up, we were already getting looks, people coming and taking photos, etc.
Then as we got out of the MTR Exits, the reception from the local public was immediate, it was loud cheers, applause, & words of support. It was a very amazing feeling, something we all have never experienced in our life in Hong Kong. Full of acceptance from the local public, unity & comradeship. As we marched shouting on top of our voices to cheer those who are stationed on the streets, to those who slept there overnights, to those who man and assist the supply stations, the first aiders, those handing out food and water. As we marched from Central to Wanchai. There was a path clearing in front of us and on both sides there was loud claps, unified cheering, patting on backs, collective singing of a Cantonese song from our beloved local band “BEYOND”. When we looked back at the road behind us, we were only 20-30 odd of us members, but behind our Ethnic minority group there were at least 250 local Chinese protesters also joining in. It was truly a defining moment; the scene will last long in our memories.
Yes we have finally done it, we showed the Hongkongers we are one, we have a stake in the future of Hong Kong, we care as much as they do, we love the values instilled in us as Hong Konger as they do. We want genuine universal suffrage! We the ethnic minorities have now joined the occupy movement for 7 days, we have lost our voices, we are exhausted, but remain passionate and determined to continue supporting those in the front lines, we will march with the intention to re-energize those out there, to give them a boost with our chanting singing and marching. To make Hong Kong a truly multicultural city, to make it truly diverse and collective in spirit.
We have now taken huge step hand in hand, we may lose this battle. But we will come out of it a stronger and more unified Hong Kong.
By Jeffrey Andrews,
a HK born and raised Indian, social work student