City on Fire: The Fight for Hong Kong by Antony Dapiran

City on Fire by Antony Dapiran

City on Fire: the Fight for Hong Kong is a book by Hong Kong-based writer and lawyer Antony Dapiran. It gives a detailed account of protests in Hong Kong during 2019 along with very thorough analysis on actions and reactions between people and their government as well as the history of events that lead to this revolution.

In the early June of 2019, million of people in Hong Kong protested the extradition law proposed by the government. Lasted over seven months, streets were engulfed with people, mainly with youths. There were fights between police force and civilians. Peaceful rallies and protests were incapacitated by the police with teargas and rubber bullets. The brutality of police handling the situation, thug-like gangs attacking the protesters, and the government’s failure to control situation are well presented and properly analysed. In order to continue fighting for their rights, the tactics used by the people evolved with the situations they encountered. Whether it was in streets or over the internet, there were many ways to express their opinions.

I read Joshua Wong’s Unfree Speech back in February and it was a very spirited book. As a key person who involved in 2014’s Umbrella Movement, Wong told his riveting experiences during the protests as well as his time in prison. Antony Dapiran wrote a different book which focused mainly on 2019 protests. He shared his first hand encounters while he was in the street protests and in the park rallies. If Wong’s book gives a front row seat of the protests, Dapiran gives a step-back yet insightful analysis on these political movements. Being a long-term Hong Kong resident, Dapiran seems to understand the concerns of Hong Kong people and their distrust in their government and Beijing government.

The 2019 protest movement was a transitional period for Hong Kong society: a rite of passage for youths involved in the protests resulting a generational consciousness, a social division amongst individuals, schools and businesses, a massive collective trauma experienced by the people, and an identity-forming process. Comprised with twenty engrossing chapters, it was an unstoppable read. The narrative is crisp and emphatic which makes it more absorbing.

As a Burmese who took part in recent protests, this is also a very relatable with several similar situations. I’d like to talk more about the similarities but this book is more about the people of Hong Kong and this post should be about their fight. I’ll probably discuss in comment or in another post later.


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