Hong Kong protestors had recently gathered at the Sham Shui Po Train Station in the Kowloon area to celebrate the Buddhist-Taoist Hungry Ghost Festival. They were soon subject to a brutal attack by the police officers. A few days later, the protestors returned to the train station, not to vent their anger against the government, but to clean the area and set an example.
Cleaning the train station
During the Hungry Ghost Festival, people pay respects to all deceased ancestors, including the younger as well as older generations. The celebration is based on the Buddhist Mahayana scripture called Ullambana Sutra. Protestors gathered outside the station and started burning paper, a tradition that is often observed on this day. They also pointed lasers at the building, extending solidarity to one of the protestors who was earlier arrested for buying 10 laser pens. But the police soon arrived at the scene, fired tear gas, and chased them out.
A few days later, some of the protestors returned to the station in the morning, dressed in gloves and surgical masks. They arrived after one of the organizers conveyed to the protestors that they were looking for volunteers to clean up the station since the tear gas fired by the police had contaminated the area. Volunteers soon started wiping down map displays and ticketing machines, making sure that they got the last bit of residue removed from the objects. Though some of the cleaners at the station said that industrial equipment would be required to properly “decontaminate” the place, the volunteers did their best.
Police have been getting increasingly aggressive against the protestors. This is not surprising since China would be anxious to calm down the issue before things get out of control and large-scale violence erupts. Protestors are now adopting a flexible movement schedule where they move in groups to multiple places rather than gather together in a single region. “I think our previous tactics of staying in one place led to many arrests and injuries… We need to ‘be water’ to avoid injuries,” a 17-year-old student activist referenced Bruce Lee martial arts tactics to Channel News Asia.
Religious influence on protests
Christianity is one of the minority religions in Hong Kong, with only 1 in 9 people practicing the faith. However, the protests against the extradition bill have had a strong Christian presence. Most Christians in the city see it as their duty to oppose the Chinese Communist government’s interference in the region and protect the freedoms of the people. “I am very certain that Jesus would not have stayed home enjoying the air-conditioning… He would have been out here helping people and marching,” 18-year-old Andrea Wong said to Today.
Christian protestors have been at the forefront of providing food and water to the demonstrators. Many people who participate in the protests also seem to be inspired by the message of the Bible, specifically that of remaining resolute in their convictions even under tremendous oppression. Youth groups often conduct prayers during protests, calling for the redemption of police officers.
A Christian hymn called Sing Hallelujah to the Lord has essentially become a popular anthem and is often played during demonstrations. Many Christians fear that the increasing influence of Beijing might eventually allow the Chinese government to implement the stringent anti-religious policies and persecutions that are widely practiced on the mainland.