Airin and her friends live a miserable life in Hong Kong due to a multitude of problems they face on a daily basis. On an average, Hong Kongers like them do not have access to basic civic amenities, resulting in them ending up in a perpetual state of limbo. When reporters from all around the world came across those problems these youngsters go through every day apart from their struggle for creature comforts, they found out what they do as a means of protest, which is “rooftopping.” It is not like they do not know, but this dangerous task range from climbing to the apex of skyscrapers to jumping off from one roof to another. They do so not only to take photos of riots and other violent demonstrations erupted in protest against the Hong Kong’s common issues, but also to take pictures of their climb to show their stance to the world from above the ground. These photos speak volumes as to the grim situation of their problems, which is in full swing to this day.
This one-of-a-kind response to the aftermath of a pro-democracy “Umbrella Movement” from the Rooftoppers is not an attempt to topple the government of China, nor a message sent out in commiseration to those who are facing the fear of persecution, which is not likely the case. These are isolated protests against the inaccessibility to various proper municipal facilities including cut-rate housings, nutritious food, and drinking water for which the Inside Government — the Chinese Government– is held accountable, which the kids keep asserting. Protests like these, dangerous stunts to be precise, are held by them to encourage others with the same ideology to join the protest against the lack of proper public facilities instead of calling out the Chinese government to deal with their issues by holding violent protests on the streets.
Simmering tensions is always prevalent in Hong Kong, and, unlike the rest of China, it has seen various sorts of violence. Riots break out to this day in response to political dilemmas despite the Rooftoppers’ calls for peaceful protests. These dilemmas have led to severe economic backlash for the future generation of Hong Kong. They are blamed for their misdeed of rooftopping, but it is more than meets the eye. Sometimes, from being ashamed of their people’s violent demonstration on the streets, these brave kids, instead of taking sticks and stones in hands to a protest, take cameras to take pictures of the protests from the Rooftops. They say they do not have any other choices left, apart from partaking in those protests. This context is apparent enough to prove the youth do not wish to be subjected to oppression, but provide an insight to the world, peacefully, on what is going on. Their reaction is because of not having a better life.
These youngsters take the roof of ramshackle, decrepit buildings at night in the face of threats carried out by police officers. The guards, unlike the police, at the entrance of the building do not pose much of a threat because he is also a victim. Instead of putting up a fight, they reluctantly let them in. Once they are on the rooftops, they start taking videos and pictures of themselves as well as the roads teeming with life, on their way from one roof to another. The way they live their life seems to speak for themselves, but the government has turned a blind eye to their predicaments. The Rooftoppers make an effort in taking the social media by storm by uploading videos of them rooftopping on YouTube. They do get likes for their death-defying stunts whatsoever, but that does not do the trick at the end of the day. It overawes people, though.
To some of the upper hands of the Chinese government , in their defense, the Rooftoppers are looked as off-the-rails, chauvinist kids who wish to floor the government by being vocal about their own problems. But their stance on the government’s problem is because of having a tough time with their civic issues, when rest of China has enjoying comparatively better lives. Truth to be told, their foolhardy tactics for protesting against the government are all the more reasonable when it comes to their living conditions, and they plan those knowing they are not foolproof.
After these so-called troublesome kids call it in for the night, they get back to work at the break of the dawn for a living. This service-cycle continues while they live being marginalized. Sometimes, recounting the pro-democracy sit-ins of “Umbrella Movement” gives them the shivers. However, they said they might as well take their lives to the front-line and meet their Waterloo instead of languishing in jails while knowing their future is bleak. There is no doubt that the Chinese government has been pulling strings from the dark right from the beginning — the acquisition of Hong Kong from England. Nevertheless, little can be done by and for these people.
Sometimes, recalling the pro-democracy sit-ins of “Umbrella Movement” give the Hong Kongers shivers as well. They still, after what they went through, have not given up their hopes on an Independent Hong Kong just like the Rooftoppers. The only difference between these two groups is one takes violent measures and the other does not for the purposes of protesting.
All of this started right after Hong Kong was handed over to China that sealed the fate of its people within. Afterwards, this piece of land experienced hundreds of casualties over the last two decades. However, most people across the globe do not even know the scourges of the far-reaching political reforms the Chinese government is carrying out, which is resulting in more casualties in the process every day.
In the midst of China’s economic boom, Hong Kongers find themselves lagging behind despite the fact their land is under the mainland’s control. As it has always been, the inhabitants are given all the blames, telling them that they missed the bus for technological revolution. But, if they are being pushed under the wheels of that bus, they will definitely need to find another way around the regulations imposed to get on it. The rightist, on the other hand, has always condemned these poor souls for their opinions on an Independent as unsolicited and trivialized them by labeling as naval-gazers. Moreover, speaking up on their problems is considered as an outrage, for which they are often labeled as an outlaw too.
Aligned with the conception of Hong Kongers, the dwellers inside the main land think of the legislature as Localism, a tycoon economy that overlooks the simmering political tensions between the two regions. In fact, these tensions are long-standing that often turns into rampage and barbaric acts that come from the government and Hong Kongers as well — a true example of a pluralist type unstable regime.
After UK handed over the country’s sovereignty to China, Hong Kong has gradually become the hotbed of a global confab, in light of the past and recent events.
The transferring of Hong Kong’s sovereignty from UK to China has been dubbed internationally as “The Handover” or “The Return” that took place on 1 July, 1997. A staggering mass migration to the UK took place before the advent of this event due to the fact of uncertainty looming over the future of this region. This region that was riven by sectarian issues from the rest of China, partly by the invasion of United Kingdom, and partly by the administrative weakness of Hong Kong that led to its dispute with China in the first place, has been turned into a problematic ramshackle system today; and the youth are trying to resolve that the hard way who wishes to know what future lies ahead for them.
Just like day and night in succession, happiness and sorrow comes and goes for Hong Kongers, very much like the people succumbed to authoritarian rule. As a matter of fact, their sorrow seems to be undefined. Apart from the atrocious, horrid living conditions, volatile markets, and so on, the government itself makes the country more vulnerable to economic paralysis. The concept of pluralism cannot be even thought of in a case like this. Liberalism is the ultimate desire of these people like the rest of the population of the world who never had a taste of freedom. It is just as Marquis de Lafayette said, “Insurrection is the most sacred of rights and most indispensable of duties…”. It became high time for them to realize that and so they are trying to follow that path. But they love the world for what it is; hence they forget to be inhumane.
(Al-Jazeera Witness, 2016)
(BBC World Asia Pacific, 2017)
(CNN regions, 2017)