In my previous book review, I wrote my reflections on Antony Dapiran’s book, City on Fire: the Fight for Hong Kong. While I was reading it, I saw many similarities between Hong Kong’s protests and Myanmar’s. 2021 political movements. Of course, protests will have similar characteristics but depends on how the ruling government handles the situation, the pattern of its continuous fight will vary. As a Burmese currently living in Myanmar, the events in HK are very relatable. The book is very well analysed, too. The entire book is filled with highlights and bookmarks. So… here are some of my thoughts..
Youths: First and important part of both revolutions is the youths. Many of the protesters in both revolutions are Myanmar’s youths and Hong Kong’s youths. During this dark time, they have shared many things including the traumatic experiences. This will definitely define who they will become in the future. To quote Dapiran, “When the liminal experience of a significant group of individuals overlaps with a liminal experience for society as a whole, this can result in the development of a generational consciousness, the identity-forming process of a generation with particular sociopolitical characteristics. Hong Kong’s 2019 generation was formed by their shared experiences of these protests.”
Support for the protests: People from various backgrounds helped the protests in many way. They provided meals and free rides for the protesters. From crowdfunding, protective gears and shelters were provided, too. There were pro democracy legislators, social workers, pro-bono lawyers, media and journalists.
Police Brutality: The police and military threw teargas and shot rubber bullet into the crowd. It was not just to disperse the people. It was their deliberate attempt to make a peaceful protest become riot. Later they charged the protesters for causing riots.
Evolving Tactics: As the government restricted the gathering and movements, people come up with creative ways to continue the protest and express their dissent through different types of strike. When the government blocked certain types of communication, tech guys come up with solutions to overcome the blockage of spreading information.
Expression through art: Lennon wall appeared in various places, messages were written on the road, graffiti and various art can be seen everywhere—on the streets, brick walls, canvas, digital screens. Songs are created and sung wholeheartedly.
Memes culture: The mockery demonstrations towards the government and the countless memes all over the internet were also part of this revolutionary. It at least gave a few laughters in the difficult time.
Influence of CCP: For HK, as it is part of China, CCP has major influence on them and can pressure HK government and its people. For Myanmar, although it is not a huge amount, there is a certain amount of influence from CCP on Myanmar military regime and all the previous administrations.
Conflict between the protesters: Different opinions of how to protest in the group split the protesters, too. The frontline ‘braves’ and ‘peaceful and nonviolent’ protesters. Same in
Social Division: Between people who support protests and against, society was clearly divided. Among individuals, relatives, schools, offices and even businesses, it became our side and their side. People boycott the businesses that support pro-Beijing or that benefits the military. Celebrities, public figures, and activists who participated in the protests received outpouring support from the people. Those who stayed silent or stand with the police/military got shunned.
Revenge on police/military: Doxxing of police of military officers and their family members as well as their allies. Some are shamed over the social media or physically attacked.
Collective Trauma: Violence has been normalised for people for many months. People had been dealing with brutality for a long time. A small victory or no violence for one whole day could worth a huge celebration. People were demoralised for witnessing the inhumane treatments and hearing horrible news everyday. Some got depressed. It’s unimaginable for those who experienced these personally.
There are similarities but there are also some differences, too. Not to compare who had it worse. Myanmar is geographically a lot larger than HK and the protests are nationwide. Well, most of the regions in the country. The poor education and healthcare system as well as the slightly developed economy and technologies—these are not giving any favour for Myanmar, too. Most importantly, the involvement of the military. In Hong Kong, there’s a garrison and PLA troops were hardly seen in HK land. Only the police handled the protests.
However, in Myanmar, the military was the one who has staged the coup and handling everything. The death toll has become very, very high in Myanmar since Feb 1. Besides, COVID-19 presence is an additional death threat for Myanmar people. There are so many things that have to be addressed and there are things about Hong Kong and its people I don’t know. What I do know is that these revolutions are far from being end. People will continue fighting for the democracy with any chance they’re given. Revolution of our times indeed.