Why the umbrella became a symbol of Hong Kong’s protests
Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have set a Wednesday deadline for a response from the government to meet their demands for reforms.
The so-called “umbrella revolution” has taken hold as the symbol of the demonstrations after crowds in the Asian financial hub began to reportedly use umbrellas to not only block the sun, but also to deflect police pepper spray.
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On Monday night, thousands blocked the streets in the Asian financial hub in an unprecedented show of civil disobedience after the demonstrations turned “violent” Sunday evening when police used pepper spray and tear gas to try to stop people from joining students who had gathered near the city government headquarters two days earlier.
“The umbrella is probably the most striking symbol of this Hong Kong protest. Our demonstrations used to be so peaceful, even pepper spray was very out of the ordinary,” said Claudia Mo, a pro-democracy lawmaker in an interview with AFP.
“Now that pepper spray has become so common, we’re having to use umbrellas against it.”
“The police have very high-quality shields — we just have our umbrellas.”
The mostly peaceful protests began over a week ago as college students boycotted classes, but have gained support from other Hong Kong residents and political activists as the demonstrations spread across the city.
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Demonstrators want a reversal of a decision by China’s government in August that a pro-Beijing panel will screen all candidates in the territory’s first direct elections, scheduled for 2017 – a move they view as reneging on a promise that the chief executive will be chosen through “universal suffrage.”
Some protesters are calling for the city’s unpopular current chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, to step down.
Now, thousands are using the umbrella to represent the movement, with many writing political slogans calling for freedom on the parasols.
On Monday, a photo of a protester with an umbrella walking in tear gas fired by riot police went viral on social media with many dubbing him as the “Umbrella Man.”
On Facebook, Hong Kong artist Kacey Wong has launched an online contest for a logo to represent the revolution.
“The top 3 prizes for this competition will be JUSTICE, DEMOCRACY, and FREEDOM,” says Wong in a post.
Many younger Hong Kong residents raised in an era of plenty and with no experience of past political turmoil in mainland China have higher expectations.
Under an agreement set in 1984, before most of them were born, Beijing promised to allow Hong Kong residents civil liberties unseen on the mainland after it took control of the city of 7.1 million in 1997.
© 2014 Shaw Media