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Umbrella becomes symbol of Hong Kong protesters

MASS UNREST: Pro-democracy protesters blocked a major road in the Kowloon district yesterday. The financial hub has been plunged into the worst political crisis since its 1997 handover, as activists take over the streets following China's refusal to grant citizens universal suffrage.
Umbrella becomes symbol of Hong Kong protesters

TAKING COVER: Protesters block pepper spray from riot policemen, as tens of thousands of demonstrators occupied the main street to Central on Sunday.


    Sep 30, 2014

    Umbrella becomes symbol of Hong Kong protesters


    IN THE last two decades, the world has seen the Rose Revolution and the Orange Revolution, among others.

    Now, we have the Umbrella Revolution, named after the humble parasol, which is the only thing that has stood between pro-democracy campaigners and riot police in Hong Kong.

    This after the tens of thousands of protesters, who have paralysed the Asian financial hub in the last three days, were forced to use umbrellas to shield themselves from pepper spray and tear gas.

    "The umbrella is probably the most striking symbol of this Hong Kong protest," said Claudia Mo, a pro-democracy lawmaker.

    "Now that pepper spray has become so common, we're having to use umbrellas against it.

    "The police have very high-quality shields - we just have our umbrellas."

    The phrase "umbrella revolution" was trending on social media yesterday, and the pro-democracy campaign looks set to present Beijing with one of its biggest political challenges since the Tiananmen Square crackdown 25 years ago.

    China wagged its finger at the student protesters and warned against any foreign interference, as they massed again in the business and tourist districts of the city late yesterday afternoon.

    "Hong Kong is China's Hong Kong," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said at a news briefing in Beijing.

    The unrest, the worst in Hong Kong since China resumed its rule over the former British colony in 1997, sent white clouds of gas wafting among some of the world's most valuable office towers and shopping malls yesterday, disrupting business and tourist activities before the riot police suddenly withdrew around lunchtime, in a bid to ease tensions.

    Organisers say that as many as 80,000 people have thronged the streets after the protests flared on Friday night. No independent estimate of numbers was available, although the trouble is expected to escalate tomorrow, when China marks its National Day.

    Nicola Cheung, an 18-year-old student from Baptist University, said the protesters would not back down.

    "Yes, it's going to get violent again, because the Hong Kong government isn't going to stand for us occupying this area," she said. "We are fighting for our core values of democracy and freedom, and that is not something violence can scare us away from."

    Meanwhile, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has advised Singaporeans to avoid the crowds and demonstrations in Hong Kong.

    Singaporeans in need of consular assistance in Hong Kong can contact the Consulate-General at +(852) 2527-2212 or the 24-hour MFA duty office at 6379-8800 or 6379-8855.