(Source: Griffiths 2014, IN PICTURES: The highs and lows of Hong Kong’s Occupy protests, accessed: 2/10/2014, http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1607608/pictures-highs-and-lows-hong-kong-protests-20-images)
“No matter how this goes, I am proud to be one of this movement. This utopian atmosphere is purely beautiful and heart-warming. #umbrellarevolution”
– Hilton, student of ‘Occupy Central’
‘Occupy Central’ is a movement I’ve been drawn to ever since I started seeing posts and yellow ribbons wave my news feed from friends I met on exchange. This quote above comes from my friend, Hilton, a Hong Kong-born Chinese student, who’s been at the protests since Saturday. ‘Occupy Central’ started as a student campaign a year ago but has since gained momentum by social media and public protests, which have united an estimated 100,000 people in a congregation outside Government headquarters. Together they stand for pro-democracy in hope to change the current electorate that only allows 1,200 people to vote (So & Lau 2014). The protestors are seeking a fair and representative election as many of the 1,200 voters are said to have close links to the Central Government of China (Hilton 2014, pers. comm. 3 October).
I’ve been in contact with Hilton over the course of the protests via Facebook and he’s hoping that the demonstrations will see Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying step down. In terms of social media, it has been a leading factor in the coordination, mobilization and dissemination of ‘Occupy Central’. Mitew (2014) describes online communication as dialogic media, an open source where mass involvement and content sharing takes place on various online platforms. ‘Occupy Central’ exemplifies the reach and immediacy of content and an online symbol that’s marking the movement is the changing of profile pictures to a yellow ribbon. The yellow ribbon is a representation signifying a person’s support towards the movement of pro-democracy.
(Source: Griffiths 2014, ‘Global Solidarity with Hong Kong’ rallies planned worldwide as Facebook turns yellow in support of protestors, accessed: 1/10/2014, http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1603935/global-solidarity-hong-kong-rallies-planned-worldwide-facebook-turns)
Hilton (2014, pers. comm. 3 October) informs me that the main social media platform predominately used in Hong Kong is Facebook and that it’s been the most powerful tool in broadcasting the ‘Occupy Central’ movement. He believes it’s more credible and students have been better able to trace sources than other platforms such as Whatsapp, which has been home to rumours and sometimes discouraging information. Unlike the protests in Cairo where the Egyptian government took extreme measures by shutting down the country’s access to the Internet, Hong Kong has not done so (Mitew 2014). Hilton (2014, pers. comm. 3 October) says there were rumours but has seen nothing of the likes.
Dialogic media has been incredibly powerful and has helped give people a newfound voice to rise up (Mitew 2014). The movement in Hong Kong has been dubbed the ‘Umbrella Revolution’ as protestors used umbrellas to shield themselves from pepper spray and tear gas emitted from authorities. There’s also been an outpouring of inspirational support coming from Facebook encouraging the people of ‘Occupy Central’. Courageous images of people covering themselves in makeshift protection such as glad wrap, raincoats, goggles and holding umbrellas is too circling the Internet. Dialogic media has helped show that ‘Occupy Central’ is a non-violent protest, the people are not armed with weapons, only umbrellas for protection. The ‘Umbrella Revolution’ are civilised, peaceful and do not want to fight (Hilton 2014, pers. comm. 3 October). They are taking a very courageous stand for Hong Kong that will be remembered and able to be traced back for years to come via the mass aggregation of online content.
Mitew, T 2014, The social network revolutions: #mena #arabspring #maidan, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 23 September.
So, P & Lau, C 2014, ‘’The sun rises as usual’: Beijing official’s response to Occupy Central’, South China Morning Post, 2 October, accessed: 2/10/2014, http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1607247/sun-rises-usual-beijing-officials-response-occupy-central