HKCTU in support of Umbrella Movement
HKCTU in support of
Led by the Hong Kong Federation of Students, Scholarism and Occupy Central with Peace and Love, the Umbrella Movement is also well supported by activists of the social movement and labour movement, each plays her/his role devotedly. The HKCTU has been facilitating the Movement attentively and some of its works have not been made public. The following paragraphs document the participation of HKCTU's committee members and its staff members, to ensure their efforts would not be forgotten.
People under the “stage”
Under the footbridge to Admiralty Centre in the Occupied Zone of Admiralty, a small stage was set up and named as the “grand stage”. The role of grand stage is to release news and host sharing sessions every night. W.S, an officer of the HKCTU is one of the volunteers running the grand stage. The volunteers plan the daily thematic sharing and contact the relevant speakers to come to the sharing.
She remembers her work on 8th and 9th November the most. There were times when some others were trying to crack down the grand stage. On one hand, they questioned the grand stage's legitimacy, while on the other hand, they attempted to occupy the grand stage for their own speeches. Such an illogical attempt was seen as a mean to destruct the movement. The grand stage indeed reserves time for free discussions and volunteers like W.S. have been working as a bridge between the people and the conductor on the stage.
Pickets to block the movement breakers
Wah-hei, a committee member of the Personal And Community Services Workers General Union serves as a picket, to keep order and manage the crowd. It might sound easy but in fact, he faces challenges every day. Sometimes there are tens of thousands of participants in an action and conflicts are inevitable, “if they are not crossing the line or affecting others, in general, we won't interfere.” he says.
Yet, pickets would actively surround and block those, who intentionally come to the occupied zone to make troubles. “Once, the blue ribbons (anti-occupation) gang came to make troubles. We, the pickets organized a human chain to block them away from several hundred occupants. We were in a stalemate for almost an hour. When work hours of the blue ribbons gang are up, they just left.”
Bar-bender couple at the resources centre
Many of our activists have been working behind the scene in this movement, such as Wong Wai-man, a committee member of the Bar Bending Solidarity Union and his wife Maggie. In 2007, Wong led a 36-day strike of bar benders and now, Mr and Mrs Wong decided to stay behind, to help sorting and distributing resources, registering information of borrowers of tents and sleeping bags. Seeing a some-60-day occupation, Wong is worried. “Resources were pouring in in the beginning and now, they are torn and worn.” In any case, the Wong’s dedication to the movement, “we hope that the public could wake up and stand firm.”
Legal support team for detainees at the front-line
When police starts to detain protestors, there is a legal support volunteer team, who dress themselves in green to provide legal support, arrange lawyers to go to the police station and safeguard detainees' rights. Ngai, a HKCTU officer is one of them.
Being at front-line, Ngai observes a worrying trend of police's excessive use of force. On the night of 15thOctober, the police has driven the protestors from Lung Wo Road to Tamar Park. As everyone would have expected the police to stop using force at that point, “we can't believe that the police would keep hitting protestors with batons. Many protestors, without any resistance, were subdued by the police on the ground. These measures could only take place when the police was arresting armed suspects in the past, but are now imposed on unarmed citizens.”
Civil disobedience comes with a price and the participants are aware of the potential consequences they would have to bear. “Here is a very sad line, the only price for freedom is freedom.' Ngai lamented. Over the past decades, the Hong Kong people had tried every way to lobby for a democratic future, yet the Government failed to put forward a fair and democratic political reform proposal. The Umbrella Movement opens an era that the Hong Kong people have waken up from illusions and are trying to take back their future, through civil disobedience.