On 12 June 2019, when the first tear gas was fired, protestors escaped with fear and anger. Time seemed to flashback to 28 September 2014, when the Umbrella Movement began. There was a sense of déjà vu.
Different from the Umbrella Movement, the Anti-Extradition Bill Movement has not ended after 79 days but continued for more than one year. Since the beginning of the protest, the protests have forever changed Hong Kong. The smell of tear gas becomes familiar. Marches of hundreds of thousands of people are commonplace. Hongkongers are used to walking on the streets filled with protest slogans and graphics, hence the fallout of the protest has already spread to our daily lives. However, the aspiration of safeguarding the culture and core values that constitute the identity of “Hongkonger” stay staunch.
Since Hong Kong’s handover to China, Hongkongers have been stuck in between a rock and a hard place. But at the same time, we are determined to remain as the beacon of light in the midst of narrowing freedom and civic space, with the glimpse of hope that when 2047 arrives, “Hongkonger” – the identity that we are proud of will not vanish along with the Chinese Government’s promise of “Fifty years remain unchanged”. We have experienced a lot of struggles and setbacks, gone through endless frustrations and the feeling of helplessness. The mental and physical trauma of the Anti-Extradition Bill Movement is unprecedented. However, it is the hope and belief in our future that sustain the morale of Hongkongers, even though we know the path is not easy.
But when many pass one way, a road is made.