Yellow Umbrella meaning Revolution

Yellow Umbrella and occupy mask - symbols of the peaceful revolution

Yellow Umbrella and occupy mask - symbols of the peaceful revolution

Hong Kong is facing its biggest political unrest in decades as thousands demand more freedom from China. The new round of protests began nearly two moth ago when college students launched a boycott to oppose China’s rejection of free elections in 2017. The protesters want an open vote, but China’s plan would only allow candidates approved by Beijing. A group called "Occupy Central," originally organised  the protests which are now known as Umbrella Revolution. 

Occupied Admiralty site in Hong Kong

Occupied Admiralty site in Hong Kong

Students and activists are camping at different sites over the city and are demanding that Beijing grant genuine democratic reforms. While many Hong Kong residents support the calls for greater democracy others are worried by the unrest.There are journalists who report for Hong Kong's established magazines and at the same time writing clandestinely as volunteer reporters for some pro protesters online information sites. Some are condemning the protests, which are now in their second month. According to them they are bringing  havoc on transportation and economic vitality and others much more outspoken support the protesters and their cause. 

Protester site near Times Square, Hong Kong

Protester site near Times Square, Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s traditional media is suffering a crisis of confidence as most influential newspapers and TV stations are private ownership of local tycoons. They certainly are wary of jeopardising their mainland ties. They maintain a conservative editorial line. Out of necessity the protesters have responded by turning to social media for news. Due to this move it seems that the ongoing “umbrella movement” could  be the best-documented social movement in history up to now. 

The protest and in this regard a heightened  public interest  has brought as well an intense  sense of caution. Nobody really expect a Tiananmen-style crackdown, but many fear that Beijing will find ways to persecute organisers and high-profile supporters in retroactive measurements. Out of this fear you can see a lot of signs at the protest sites prominently displaying  “no photo” please. A plea to keep their identities hidden.

Since 1997 Hong Kong has been ruled under the premise “one country, two systems”, granting Hong Kong its freedom with an independent judiciary, freedom of assembly, and an unrestricted press. Among these, the last is perhaps the most conspicuous.  

The protesters demand the ability to choose the city’s top leader by “genuine universal suffrage” in 2017. The rebuke and no alternative feeds  a creeping anxiety that central authorities aim to gradually take these freedoms away.

Umbrella girl

Umbrella girl

If you are not familiar with all the different Numbers and symbols off the revolution you’ll see on images here some short explanations:

Umbrellas, numbers, telephone lines and more coded number symbols makes it otherwise difficult to get the messages especially for foreigners.

The umbrella is the key symbol of the protests that have upended Hong Kong. Umbrellas were used to shield protesters from the tear gas and pepper spray and in doing so have become a ubiquitous sight on the frontlines, and given the movement its name.

Yellow ribbons are tied to barricade railings, pinned on shirts, and decorate social media profiles as a symbol of democratic aspiration.

#689 representing C.Y. Leung the present Chief Executive 

#689 representing C.Y. Leung the present Chief Executive 

Looking at all the numbers at the protest sites you might think you are looking at a telephone directory. This symbols are printed on notes and posters plastered around the streets: 689, 926, 8964. They also figure heavily in social media posts about the protests.

As you cannot express some things openly you’ll find numbers which are a kind of shorthand. They are especially  common in Chinese political culture in mainland China but used as well in Hong Kong.

#926 refers to September 26, when the protests kicked off, #8964 to the date of the Tiananmen crackdown. #689 for example stands for chief executive C.Y. Leung, the main target of the protesters. It refers to the number of votes he received from Hong Kong's 1,200-strong election committee to rise to office as the territory's leader.

There is more information on a special webpage here on the original site of the movement and some images I shot on different places in Hong Kong.