US veteran offers advice on civil rights during Tamar vigil

Bob Kraft is camping outside government headquarters so he can give advice to other protesters

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 December, 2013, 11:28am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 December, 2013, 5:31pm

A retired member of the US military is taking part in an unusual vigil outside government headquarters at Tamar, Admiralty.

Soldier-turned-lay-preacher, Bob Kraft, has pitched a tent at government headquarters and says he is acting as a “gatekeeper” for Civic Square in a bid to ensure protesters know their rights.

The 57-year-old began his vigil on October 20 – the same night as tens of thousands massed outside government headquarters to protest against the controversial decision to deny Hong Kong Television network a free-to-air licence – and he has been there ever since.

“There are many coming to protest at the government offices everyday. On average, around 50 people from all walk of lives come here to demonstrate.

“Many of them are old and underprivileged. They are so terrified that they dare not enter the front gate of the complex. I have to explain to them their rights and tell them they can protest in Civic Square,” Kraft said.

He witnessed the square filled with black-clad protestors on October 20 and carried on with his vigil alongside a small band of HKTV demonstrators who continued their protest for 19 days.

After they had eventually departed, he remained.

The lay pastor, who has lived in Hong Kong for 21 years, is now the only protester at the site.

“We have to take down fencing and argue with the guards before we can take over the protest site,” he said.

Kraft said he wanted the reserve the site for future protests or the return of the HKTV demonstrators.

“I am doing this for my daughters, who have their careers in Hong Kong. I want the government to conduct better policy and turn Hong Kong to be a better place,” he explained.

“I pray for this everyday from here.”

Seeking support, the veteran has set up a guest tent next to his own camp and welcomes others to join him in his protest.