Occupy Central goes global: Solidarity protests planned for dozens of cities worldwide
Solidarity protests are planned in more than 30 cities around the world this week in support of ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
Occupy Central entered its third day in the city on Tuesday, with much of Causeway Bay, Admiralty, Central and Mong Kok paralysed by hordes of peaceful protesters.
Police reaction has been considerably softer since tear gas and pepper spray were used heavily on Sunday night, attracting widespread condemnation both from Hong Kong and around the world.
Demonstrations were held in multiple cities across the globe on Monday as expat Hongkongers and sympathisers voiced their support for the so-called “Umbrella Movement”, named for the tool protesters are using to shield themselves from both the baking heat and police pepper spray.
Rallies were held in 12 cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, Paris, Berlin, Vancouver, and The Hague. In Canberra, hundreds of Australians took to a major shopping street where they held up signs voicing their support for universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
A handful of events are planned today – in Toronto, Tokyo, and Dunedin, New Zealand – according to United for Democracy: Global Solidarity with Hong Kong, which is helping to arrange and coordinate rallies over social media.
“Our group was formed when a number of spontaneous overseas events supporting the then upcoming student strike started to emerge on Facebook in early September,” said Desmond Sham, originally from Hong Kong but studying in London. “It did not take long before we found one another and soon enough we are promoting the different events across the world together.”
“Every voice matters. Even if you are just one person, you can still do a lot to raise awareness,” organisers said on Facebook. “When all of us do this together, this becomes a powerful movement.”
October 1, the Chinese national day and what was believed to be the intended date for Occupy Central before it was started early in support of student protests, will see rallies occur in more than 30 cities around the world.
Hundreds of people are expected to doorstep the Chinese embassy and consulates in London, Manchester and Edinburgh, to protest at Beijing. Some 400 protests gathered for an impromptu protest in Trafalgar Square, London, last Sunday to denounce the heavy-handed police tactics
“It’s intolerable for the government to treat their people like this,” said student Anthony Lau On-wing at the London protests. “I think we have a critical mass right now – there are enough people who are angry whose coming out to really say what they feel about the government.”
More than 27,000 people have signed up on Facebook to 'Wear Yellow for Hong Kong on October 1st', an event started by students at Harvard University which has quickly spread to other American colleges and internationally.
"I started the campaign at Harvard because I thought that very few people at my university knew about the Hong Kong democracy debate and I wanted to raise awareness about it," organiser Heather Pickerell told the Post. "The campaign started off as a Harvard-only event with just two hundred people attending, and over the past forty hours, 29,000 students have signed up to participate from over 40 universities."
Pickerell said that student groups from around the world have been using the event to help coordinate rallies on their campuses, "[it's] really indicative of how politically aware and active Hong Kong students are."
“I love my hometown. Even though I am overseas now, I still hope to do as much as I can to support democracy in Hong Kong,” said Noble Suen, 22, a student at the University of California Berkeley who is taking part in solidarity events. “The world is watching, and we are not alone.”
Some supporters in the US are also crowdfunding an advert in the New York Times on the Indiegogo platform. They've currently raised around $1,000 of a $55,000 goal, with five days to go.
"We need about $55,000 to post a full page advertisement in the New York Times next week," organisers said. "We want those who are concerned about democracy in Hong Kong to help by participating in this movement."
Additional reporting from Danny Lee, Raquel Carvalho and Jessie Lau