Editor’s Note: Frances Hui serves as The Beacon’s assistant opinion editor for the fall 2019 semester.
Senior Frances Hui walked through Downtown Crossing towards City Hall on Saturday leading a crowd of Hong Kong protesters singing “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from Les Miserables.
Around 60 people gathered on the Boston Common and marched to City Hall protesting the treatment of Hong Kong, Taiwanese, Tibetan, and Uygurs people by the People’s Republic of China. This is the second protest centered around Hong Kong Hui helped organize this month after demonstrating outside the Dining Hall earlier in October.
The protesters filled the street and spilled onto the sidewalk, holding signs, waving flags, and chanting. Call and response chants like “Stand with Hong Kong! Fight for Freedom!” and “No Tyranny! We want Democracy!” were interspersed with simpler chants like “Save Hong Kong!” and “Protect Hong Kong!”
The event began with speeches from Hui and other advocates followed by an open mic portion of the protest for attendees and a sing-along to “Glory to Hong Kong,” a popular Cantonese protest marching song. After, they stood and shouted a variety of chants including “Free Hong Kong!” and “Five demands! Not one less!” with their arms raised over their heads and their five fingers stretched out.
“The Hong Kong people have been fighting for [more than] the past 100 days and right now we’re seeing more and more political issues between China and Hong Kong,” the journalism major said in an interview beforehand. “We believe that Boston is a city that had a very important role in the American Revolution [therefore] we need to be here standing in solidarity with Hong Kong.”
Chungchi Che, a protester and army veteran wearing a black leather jacket with patriotic patches on the sleeves said he was there because he is a Hongkonger who immigrated to the United States in the 1980s.
“Human rights, freedom, and democracy have been deteriorating in Hong Kong,” Che said in an interview, “We need to overcome this problem but Hong Kong is so small and [has] no power. We need the outside world to know.”
Hui describes herself as an avid advocate for this cause, organizing multiple protests since the end of the spring 2019 semester. On Sept. 29, the Chinese flag flew on a City Hall flagpole in celebration of China’s national day. On Oct. 1. Hui asked the city to raise the Black Bauhinia flag—a black and white protest variation on the official district flag of Hong Kong with the stars representing China removed—in response to the city flying the Chinese flag. The City of Boston denied her request. After the city’s denial, Hui worked with her fellow local advocates to organize the Black Bauhinia march.
“People in Hong Kong don’t feel that the official flag really represents us, so if it doesn’t represent our community then I don’t think City Hall should force us to use a flag that we do not feel resonance with,” Hui said.
Soon after, they started walking down Boylston Street turning on to Washington Street and walking through Downtown Crossing to City Hall. Throughout their route, the protestors drew applause, salutes, and some criticism from nearby pedestrians. Upon arriving at City Hall, the protestors had another open mic for any attendees who wanted to speak.
Sophomore Sarah Cheng joined the protests in Hong Kong during the summer and helped Hui organize this one.
“I feel guilty for not being at home because no matter how much we do here it’s still very little compared to what people are doing back home,” Cheng said in an interview.
Also at the protest were Taiwanese, Tibetian, and Uyghur protesters. All three are other groups in conflict with China, and the protestors held signs in support of Hong Kong and their individual groups. Chants of “Free Taiwan,” “Free Tibet,” and “Free Uyghurs” were also mixed into the protests.