Are the young being exploited or politicised? 年輕人被剝削或被政治化了嗎？
Updated: Jun 19, 2020
(Please scroll down for Chinese translation 繁体中文请往下滑).
I am looking over posters and post-it notes on the local Lennon Wall that acts as a kind of celebration of the pro-democracy social movement. Suddenly two kids come running towards me screaming fiercely. I see they’re armed with big black marker pens. They stop and stoop before me, bending down to slash thick black marks across the faces of Carrie Lam and Xi Jinping whose portraits are plastered all over the footpath. I’m astonished by just how staunch these youngsters are and look around, but don’t see any parents in sight.
Today I am more concerned than ever about how the government of Hong Kong fulfills its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child ratified in 1990. What childhood memories will the current generation take with them into adulthood? It’s clear that many young protesters have already shouldered a very heavy burden for the rest of us. News reports indicate that Police have arrested a lot of very young children, and there have been legal battles to reunite youngsters with their families. We can only wonder about the care juveniles receive whilst in detention.
Many citizens active in the Pro-democracy movement are motivated to push for a better Hong Kong, not only for personal reasons, but also to improve the lives of current and future generations of young people. Currently in Hong Kong this tends to translate mostly as being anti-government and anti-Communist Party.
Critics of the social movement claim it is wrong for school kids or older students to take part in protests, and that they do not fully understand the issues involved. On the other hand, some parents have been seen with their children at rallies, or walking with their children on protest marches. It’s clear that some young people have joined civil disobedience either without their parents’ knowledge or in defiance.
Perhaps some young people model themselves on young leaders like Demosisto’s Joshua Wong, active in the Umbrella Movement since 2014 and sent to prison for his activism? Others hear their parents and relatives talk politics, or are able to see and follow news and commentary in all kinds of media. Unlike in the neighbouring mainland China, information flows freely here, though there has been speculation about curbing that freedom. Whether young people are fully cognisant of what their involvement in protests means on a personal level is not always clear.
On Friday 4th of October, young people territory-wide received a political lesson courtesy of Chief Executive Carrie Lam: every school was asked to announce the government’s new face mask ban. It was a lesson about human rights and authority, about being told what you can and cannot do, and about how easily freedom can be taken away from us. In Hong Kong, where masks are widely used to combat the spread of respiratory illnesses in the densely populated city, even the students knew the mask ban law would inflame public anger!
It’s very wrong for the government to deal so ineffectively with the issues facing its people and to ignore the real concerns of the younger generation. Youth in Hong Kong are living the political lesson about what happens when government fails to act in the best interests of the people it is meant to serve. We are right to be concerned about the loss of personal freedoms in Hong Kong, as reported to the British Parliament last year. No one can be sure about how the unrest in Hong Kong will end, or about the long term effects on young people here, but the systemic failings of its governing model have been clearly exposed to the world.
Jeremiah B. and Pepe
VIDEO: Link posted 23 December, 2019 "No Joy this Christmas". A father interviewed about his son's involvement in HK protests. (English Subtitles)
今天，我比以往任何時候都更加關注香港政府如何履行其在1990年批准的「 聯合國兒童權利公約」(United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child) 所規定的義務。當代人將把什麼樣的童年記憶帶入成年期？顯然，許多年輕的抗議者已經為我們其他人承擔了沉重的負擔。新聞報導表明，許多年幼的孩子 被警察逮捕了，並進行了法律鬥爭，使年輕人可與家人 團聚。我們可想而知少年們在拘留期間 受到的照顧。
Jeremiah B. and Pepe