‘Against My Fear, I See That You Hope’ A Professor’s Open Letter to Her Hong Kong Students

Denise Y. Ho – Asia Society China File – Thursday October 2, 2014 (originally published 29 Sept)

Chinese student pro-democracy protesters
Chinese student protesters, who have boycotted their classes in school in hopes to publicly stand in the streets of Hong Kong’s Tamar Park for a pro-democracy rally, are moved by government officials as they are told to sit down in an area away from the rally on September 26, 2014. Image: AFP

A week ago today I sat together with you outside the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s library, a teacher among other teachers, a university member beside students, 13,000 strong. The weeks before had felt quiet: at the three previous all-student meetings around the Goddess of Democracy statue, you listened respectfully to guest speakers—past student union presidents, a student who had been arrested on July 1, Leung “Longhair” Kwok-hung from the League of Social Democrats. There were not many of you, but you raised your hands and made gentle suggestions about what time last Monday’s rally should start, about how you could be photographed studying outside of class, about making public art by folding paper stars.

So I was surprised when I arrived at the campus plaza on Monday. Under a relentless late summer sun, you filled the entire campus mall. On the impromptu stage, white banners read, “Student Boycott, Take a Stand!” and “Be the master of Hong Kong’s future!” Throughout the afternoon a “Democracy Wall” rose at the far end of the crowd; some of the messages you attached to it simply gave support for the strike and Hong Kong’s democracy, some of you filled poster-boards to the brim with righteous indignation: “The National People’s Congress has seized our right to universal suffrage…you are not the emperor!” You bore brightly-colored flags that bobbed in the sunlight, representing your universities, your departments. The atmosphere was ebullient. You cheered and waved when a photography drone passed overhead. You chanted slogans with yellow ribbons tied around your wrists. You sang songs with your arms in the air.

I was and am inspired, most of all by your words. . .

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