Elisabeth Mahase

All is not well in Hong Kong. Protests are under way and Hong Kongers from all over the world are stepping out in solidarity with those back home. Once a British Colony, Hong Kong was 'handed back' to the Chinese government on the 1st July 1997. Since then Hong Kong has been hard to define as a nation, technically part of China but simultaneously very different.

The movement known as Occupy Central (with peace and love) is composed of pro-democracy campaigners, who believe they should be given the right to vote for their city's leader. While this idea seems trivial in the UK, for those in Hong Kong this remains an ideal. The current protests kicked off in response to the Chinese government's decision to pre-select only pro-Chinese candidates for the election, meaning people would only be able to vote from a small selection of potential leaders – all of which have had their policies checked and approved.

So far the protesters have been peaceful, with many joining to sing and chant; they seem to have very little interest in causing any violence. However, the same cannot be said about the police. Tear gas explosions, pepper spray, rubber bullets - all of these have been brought out and used on the campaigners, young and old. The majority of those out on the streets are students, although this is not to say that they aren't supported by the more elder of the city. Many videos and live streams have shown middle aged and even elderly men and women coming out in support of the students, some kneeling in front of the police to plea that they don't use force and hurt those standing for democracy.

This unrest is not just confined to the city itself. Brunel has a large Hong Kong community, with many students travelling to London for term time and returning home during the holidays. Of those, many are watching the events unfold both fearful and proud of their fellow students, those they studied with in high school and grew up with. One student, Alison (Loktung) Tam, whose family and friends are back in Hong Kong had this to say:

“I think the police are overreacting, it's just an unarmed sit-in. It's a group of unarmed    students trying to fight for democracy and the future of Hong Kong. I don't see why they have to treat them in such a violent manner. We are both Hong Kong people we should both fight for Hong Kong. I'm really proud of the students and all the people who get involved in the protest. I've never seen such a well organised and peaceful protest. They just gather and sing and call out chants. I'm really proud, they are acting as civilised people. It's the police that are being brutal. And now the Chinese government have blocked Instagram, they are trying to block all the information from Hong Kong. I think they know that they are in the wrong. It feels a little like North Korea.”

 Alison is one of the many Brunelians who joined the demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in London on Wednesday 1 October, to protest the China's interference with Hong Kong's political reform. Hong Kong students from all over London were present, with over 1000 students (of all nationalities) confirming their attendance, just over 24 hours after the event was created on Facebook.

Le Nurb Reporters Live tweeted the event. You can see the full time line here, but here are some highlights: