- Title: Hong Kong protest frontliner ready to risk "life" for democracy
- Date: 16th August 2019
- Summary: HONG KONG, CHINA (AUGUST 11, 2019) (REUTERS) PROTEST FRONTLINER 'AH LUNG' KICKING AWAY TEAR GAS CANISTER, REPORTER ASKING (Cantonese): 'Do you think the police should shoot the tear gas?' AH LUNG (Cantonese): 'No they shouldn't, here is the residential area.' REPORTER ASKING: 'But they've shot it anyway, right?' AU LUNG: 'Yes, wait, I feel my skin burning.' PROTESTERS WALKING IN TEAR GAS (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) HONG KONG PROTESTER, AH LUNG, 25, SAYING: "My name is Ah Lung, I'm 25 years old this year. I have been a frontliner, in the 'umbrella movement' five years ago and the 'fishball revolution' three years ago. I have never missed any protest activity since then. I have always been standing at the frontline to guard and to 'put out fire' (put out tear gas)." VARIOUS OF AH LUNG PUTTING ON PROTECTION GEAR (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) HONG KONG PROTESTER AH LUNG, 25, SAYING: "This is for protecting arms, this is for the shoulder and this is for the heart. And actually inside there's a stab-resistant protection since recently some triads and people with knives appeared. A few days ago, people got stabbed at Tsuen Wan. This is for protecting myself." AH LUNG PUTTING ON LEG PROTECTION (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) HONG KONG PROTESTER AH LUNG, 25, SAYING: REPORTER ASKING: Is the leg protection necessary? "I was beaten on the leg by the police on July 1st so I think it is necessary." PROTECTION GEAR AH LUNG PUTTING ON HELMET AH LUNG POSING FOR CAMERA PEOPLE STANDING ON FOOTBRIDGE AH LUNG WALKING TO JOIN PROTEST / PROTESTERS MOVING BARRICADES AH LUNG WALKING WITH OTHER PROTESTERS (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) HONG KONG PROTESTER AH LUNG, 25, SAYING: "The mental pressure has always been great. Because you always need some people to be at the main gate to guard and you're responsible for putting out the tear gas canisters, to keep those peaceful protesters away from severe impact by the tear gas." PROTESTERS PUSHING SELF-BUILT BARRICADES VARIOUS OF AH LUNG AND PROTESTERS PUSHING BARRICADES PEOPLE TAKING PICTURES AND STANDING WOMAN WALKING THROUGH BARRICADES (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) HONG KONG PROTESTER AH LUNG, 25, SAYING: "Although the more we come out (to protest), the more people will be arrested, we won't leave until we get what we've asked for." PROTESTERS KNOCKING AT THE BARRICADES PROTESTERS STANDING BEHIND BARRICADES AH LUNG USING TELESCOPE POLICE FORCE STANDING (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) HONG KONG PROTESTER AH LUNG, 25, SAYING: "If you ask me, I can say any frontliner is scared. But are we afraid of being arrested or losing our homes? We are afraid of losing our home called Hong Kong." POLICE ADVANCING PROTESTERS THROWING TEAR GAS CANISTERS PROTESTER PUTTING OUT TEAR GAS WITH FIRE EXTINGUISHER AH LUNG PROTECTING HIMSELF WITH UMBRELLA POLICE SHOOTING TEAR GAS POINT OF VIEW SHOT OF AH LUNG RUNNING AWAY WHILE POLICE SHOOT TEAR GAS AND CHASE PROTESTERS FIRE EXTINGUISHER BEING SPRAYED, PROTESTERS RUNNING AWAY POLICE CATCHING PROTESTER WITH RED UMBRELLA POINT OF VIEW SHOT OF PROTESTERS RUNNING POLICE REMOVING MASK FORCIBLY FROM FEMALE PROTESTER ON THE GROUND (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) HONG KONG PROTESTER AH LUNG, 25, SAYING: "Our youngsters have nothing to lose. Because we have no big dependence on people and we have no property. If we fail, we would pay with our lives." POLICE SHOWING BLACK FLAG, SIGN READING (English and Chinese): "WARNING, TEAR SMOKE." PROTESTERS PROTECTING THEMSELVES WITH UMBRELLAS (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER, SAYING: "When you retreat, you don't need to be in a rush, if they run we run, and if they walk we walk. Let's check the road first and let's not betray our teammates. Let's be careful." (SOUNDBITE) (Cantonese) HONG KONG PROTESTER AH LUNG, 25, SAYING: "Actually if you ask me seriously, I can tell you I don't have any confidence in both the Chinese and the Hong Kong government. However, they (both governments) said this (one country, two systems) and it has been written down clearly, and I hope they respect our will, which is to stick with the 'one country, two system' and not interfere in Hong Kong affairs." PROTESTERS RUSHING INTO THE TRAIN STATION AH LUNG WALKING IN THE TRAIN STATION, SAYING (Cantonese): 'FIND YOUR OWN SPACE (ON THE TRAIN), QUICKLY' TRAIN LINE MAP AH LUNG CHECKING MESSAGES
- Embargoed: 30th August 2019 01:34
- Keywords: Hong Kong protesters frontliner civil unrest extradition bill protests violence
- Location: HONG KONG, CHINA
- City: HONG KONG, CHINA
- Country: Hong Kong
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Civil Unrest,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA001ASGU2IV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: FACES WERE BLURRED AND VOICES DISTORTED TO PROTECT THE IDENTITIES OF PROTESTERS
Protesters on the frontline of demonstrations in Hong Kong have said they are willing to give up their lives in their bid for democracy and maintaining the 'one-country, two-systems' formula, amid protests that have roiled the territory for the past 10 weeks.
One of the frontline protester Ah Lung - a nickname that means "dragon" - represents a growing number of discontented Hong Kong youth fuelling a fast-changing protest movement that has taken on a revolutionary cast.
"I don't have any confidence in both the Chinese and the Hong Kong government" said Ah Lung, who spends his days working in a trading company and his nights facing off against riot police. He declined to give his real name.
Under the 'one-country, two-systems' formula, China promised Hong Kong that it would enjoy autonomy for 50 years after its handover from Britain in 1997. For young protesters born after the handover, that deadline will fall in the middle of their lives.
Putting on body gear purchased from a motorbike shop - which include mask, helmet as well as arm, body and leg protection - in a small apartment in the Sham Shui Po neighbourhood on Sunday (August 11), Ah Lung said he is ready for a night of protests that would become one of the most violent Hong Kong had seen up to now.
"Our youngsters have nothing to lose. Because we have no big dependence on people and we have no property. If we fail, we would pay with our lives," Ah Lung said.
The protesters and their supporters come from a broad cross-section of society - rich and poor, male and female, young and old - making the city a tinder box that could ignite at any moment. The protesters speak in increasingly desperate terms, and violence has become widely accepted as a principle of resistance by many of them.
On that Sunday afternoon, riot police rushed out and fired tear gas at the bustling street of Sham Shui Po, and arrested some people. Rather than make a stand, the group of several hundred decided to evacuate as tear gas rounds boomed in the distance.
"Zau ah," shouted black-clad leaders in the crowd, exhorting the other protesters to run away in Cantonese.
They then swiftly changed locations - their fluid movement becoming a steely and creative resistance to Chinese rule that has rattled the Communist Party.
"Be water!" has been the mantra of the protesters, a phrase borrowed from Hong Kong movie star Bruce Lee, who used it to describe his kung fu philosophy. It is a call for flexibility and creativity, moving forward when there is an opportunity to press an advantage and flowing away when a strategic retreat is needed.
Its latest manifestation has been the series of wildcat protests that have spread across the city in recent weeks. When police turn up in numbers at one protest, the activists engage them to tie up officers, and then melt away to another neighborhood, where they repeat the process.
"Our protection gear cannot fight against the police's weapons. That's why we can only use flash mobs to split the police's power to make them feel tired and go back. This is all we can do," said Ah Lung.
While the movement clearly is being supported by established pro-democracy activists, one of the striking features of the recent protests has been the sight of activists like Ah Lung, clad head to toe in black protective gear, rallying other protesters to move forward, or retreat, or set off to the next flash mob protest in another district.
Unlike Occupy, which pushed for the rather lofty goal of universal suffrage, the extradition bill was more tangible, the protesters say, uniting those who had remained silent for years.
"If you ask me, I can say any frontliner is scared. But are we afraid of being arrested or losing our homes? We are afraid of losing our home called Hong Kong," said Ah Lung.
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