The protests in Hong Kong have not only seen the participation of youth and activists, but also that of families who come out with their children. Many of the participating parents believe that it is necessary to instill the value of fighting for one’s freedoms right from childhood.
A family affair
“We have to tell children about the current situation in Hong Kong, and educate them about what the right kind of society is… The future belongs to the children. Hong Kong’s future is theirs. We are fighting for rights that children should have,” a woman who participated in a protest with her 3-year-old niece said to The Guardian.
Some of the protests have actually been family-focused, with one of them having the slogan: “Guard our children’s future.” Interestingly, these types of family protests get permits faster from authorities compared to other demonstrations. Plus, such protests tend to be far more colorful, thanks to the presence of kids. In some cases, leaflets with alphabet tables are given to kids, which usually contain content like “D is for Demonstration,” “P is for Protest,” and so on.
Kids also act as a source of inspiration for the protesters. In one video that captures a huge rally, a little kid can be seen saying “Hongkongers” to the protesting crowd. In return, the demonstrators chant “add oil”, something that is used as an encouragement to keep going in the fight for the rights of Hongkongers. However, not all children are apparently feeling safe due to the situation. The kids of police officers are reportedly being harassed in schools.
“I have visited a lot of police families last week. In fact, normally, policemen, frontline policemen, police officers, and their families had been under extreme pressure… Their personal particulars had been exposed. They complained to me that their children are being intimidated and bullied at school,” Regina Ip, member of the Executive Council, said in a statement (Channel News Asia). At the same time, in what seems to be a vicious cycle, police have gotten increasingly violent toward the protesters.
Older people are also standing up against the Chinese intrusion and have conducted their own rallies in support of Hong Kong’s democracy. During one demonstration, the senior citizens delivered letters to the office of Chief Executive Carrie Lam and police headquarters, declaring their complete support for the protesters.
While the anti-extradition bill is uniting the people of Hong Kong, the same cannot be said for Hongkongers living elsewhere. In Canada, families from Hong Kong are getting divided over the topic, with many of the heated debates ending up in broken relationships. While some of the older generation seem to have a liking for the mainland, the young ones have a strong pro-democracy stance.
“Many Hong Kong families are now torn… People feel helpless and stressed… Most parents are not in agreement, not because they’re pro-government. Many of them are just too concerned [their children] will go out on the street [protesting],” Miu Chung Yan, a University of British Columbia social work professor who has studied the issue, said to CBC.
The protests have affected Hong Kong and Chinese communities in Canada. While the Chinese communities see Beijing’s complete control over Hong Kong as their “right,” Hongkongers obviously do not take kindly to such suggestions from their Chinese counterparts. In some places, people have stopped even discussing the topic as they don’t want to trigger a conflict between the two communities.