The Faces of Hong Kong's Historic Stand Against China
(Bloomberg) -- While protests that drew hundreds of thousands of people into Hong Kong’s streets this month were likely the biggest the city has ever seen, the leaders of the historic series of marches stayed relatively low key.
There’s good reason: Many heads of the 2014 Occupy movement, which shut down swathes of the former British colony for 79 days, ended up in jail, removed from elected office or both. This time around, demonstrators were careful not to give too much credit to a single leader.
Still, the protests brought out an array of colorful characters, some of whom have been fighting from the start to block Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. Lam backpedaled in the face of mass demonstrations that led to clashes with riot police, shelving the proposed law indefinitely.
In the process, Lam may have brought new unity to the city’s fractious opposition. Here are some of the most outspoken critics:
Claudia Mo, 62
As a former journalist for Agence France-Presse, Claudia Mo’s coverage of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square was a turning point. In Hong Kong, she later won an election in 2012 on a promise to prevent the city’s “mainlandization.” Mo eventually left the Civic Party she co-founded to form a so-called localist group, HK First, with fellow lawmaker Gary Fan. She protested against the extradition bill in March alongside bookseller Lam Wing-kee, and later saw him off at the airport when he fled to Taiwan amid fears that he could be sent to China for illegally selling books if the bill were to pass.
Jimmy Sham, 31
Jimmy Sham, as the convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, helped lead a group known for organizing rallies and calling news conferences. “Hong Kong people no longer believe her apologies,” Sham told reporters after Lam’s remarks Sunday. The CHRF was founded in 2002 as a broad church of 48 non-governmental and political organizations. It became known for opposing then-Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa’s national security law, which many feared would be used to curb dissent. It was known for its annual marches on the July 1 handover anniversary before helping coordinate the anti-extradition movement.
Roy Kwong, 36
Legislator Roy Kwong hails from the Democratic Party, a traditional opposition group shunned by activists who favor a more assertive approach. But his role in the anti-extradition protests, in which he repeatedly showed up to aid individual demonstrators, has helped give his party new relevance. Kwong and fellow Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui put themselves between protesters and police when things got ugly. He also joined a desperate -- and ultimately unsuccessful -- effort Saturday to discourage one protester from jumping off a building over the bill. After the man fell to his death, Kwong wept.
Lam Ka Lo, 26
Lam Ka Lo, 26, received the social media moniker Shield Girl after sitting down in front of a phalanx of police holding riot shields outside the Legislative Council last week. To the delight of many photo-snapping bystanders, she began meditating. “I just wanted to send my positive vibes,” she told the BBC. The photographs went viral and political cartoonist Badiucao later depicted her in a sketch he posted on Twitter. It wasn’t Shield Girl’s first demonstration, however. She spent all 79 days on the streets during the Umbrella Movement in 2014.
Eddie Chu, 41
Eddie Chu became known as the “king of votes” after winning the most support of any candidate in the 2016 Legislative Council elections. His support for the city’s “self-determination” made him a target of Beijing loyalists seeking to purge pro-independence activists from elected office, and last year he was banned from running in village elections. Chu had been among the most vocal opponents of the extradition bill. He and lawmaker Au Nok-hin led a march to Lam’s office to demand talks on retracting the legislation.
To contact the reporters on this story: Blake Schmidt in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org;Fion Li in Hong Kong at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org, Chris Kay, Daniel Ten Kate
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