“We’ll accomplish what’s left to be carried out,” wrote one.
The demise of the girl — identified to a lot of the world by her final title, Mak — was the fourth suspected suicide to be linked by native media to ongoing demonstrations, sparked initially by a controversial extradition invoice that many feared may additional restrict freedoms within the semi-autonomous metropolis.
Protesters have talked of sacrifice, hopelessness, and a lack of belief of their leaders. The 4 who died have develop into fixtures in protest artwork and been handled by some demonstrators as heroes of the trigger.
The combat for Hong Kong
The motion to dam the extradition invoice has been forged as a binary life or demise battle from the outset.
When at the least a whole lot of hundreds — as much as 1,000,000 by some measures — marched in the beginning of June, it was described by activists because the “final likelihood to combat for Hong Kong.”
The deaths of the protesters solely added to that depth.
At demonstrations, protesters created banners from yellow raincoats, giving the phantasm that the primary demise by suicide, a 35-year-old man who died sporting a particular yellow raincoat, was floating above them. Protesters wore black and waved black flags to honor the useless. Within the mass outpouring of grief, some protesters pointed the finger on the authorities. For a time, a blood-red placard grew to become ubiquitous. It learn: “Cease killing us.”
“He sacrificed loads for us,” a 16-year-old schoolgirl, who solely gave her title as Athena, stated of the person at one of many marches. “That is associated to the political system of Hong Kong — it is life-threatening and it is fateful.”
In locations across the metropolis, demonstrators held memorials for the useless. They piled flowers on footpaths that fashioned little mountains of white and plastic, and left notes to the useless that they might by no means learn.
“Expensive Hero, we’ll combat for you,” learn one on a bit of white paper embellished with a coronary heart. “He was dragged down by the regime,” learn one other.
These misplaced to suicide grew to become fixtures in protest artwork, too. One confirmed the 35-year-old man and one other sufferer holding palms as they walked towards the sunshine with the phrases: “Buddy, do not depart. Hong Kong individuals, do not surrender.” Even messages that did not depict the protesters took on a darker tone. “If we burn, you burn with us,” learn an enormous, deep-red banner.
“We have to remind them that it’s not price it. Time is at all times on the facet of the younger,” she stated.
The issue is, the younger do not essentially really feel like that.
Why issues turned darkish
Hong Kong is a metropolis acquainted with protests. However the protests have not at all times been like this motion.
Hope was within the air.
There was a way that democracy may lastly be potential.
So when protesters took to the streets earlier this yr, they launched years of suppressed anger and mistrust of the federal government, in accordance with Samson Yuen, a political scientist at Hong Kong’s Lingnan College.
The 4 suspected suicides added one other emotional component — particularly as a result of many noticed the deaths because the fault of the federal government, stated Yuen.
“The protest is in regards to the life and demise of Hong Kong,” he stated. “The protests are about persevering with the desires of those that ‘gave their lives.’
“It is about how individuals belief the system, how individuals can nonetheless have faith about the way forward for Hong Kong.”
At a press convention earlier this month, Hong Kong’s chief Lam stated she was saddened by the protesters who had damage themselves because of the invoice. She added that the federal government had requested many non-governmental organizations to supply emotional session providers, “hoping to ease the unfavorable feelings that plague the Hong Kong society.”
A 34-year-old protester, who requested to not be named, stated he joined the protests after seeing the “brutal” police actions on June 12 — and was given “religion and braveness” by the demise of the primary protester on June 15.
“The demise of (the protester) compelled individuals to acknowledge our metropolis’s authorities has modified,” he stated. “Our impression of a authorities that cares for the individuals is shattered.”
“We selected to disregard it for years that our metropolis is slowly altering. However this time, we won’t.”
A hopeless future?
The awful language — and spate of deaths — has lawmakers and psychological well being specialists fearful.
Paul Yip, the director for the Hong Kong Jockey Membership Centre for Suicide Analysis and Prevention (CSRP), was involved in regards to the danger of copycat suicides, and the impact the unfavorable ambiance may have on youth who’re affected by preexisting psychological well being points.
Yip cautioned that turning individuals who could have had psychological well being points already into martyrs risked glamorizing suicide, which may create a contagion impact.
“These individuals … are the victims of a mentally careworn atmosphere,” he stated.
And there is proof that psychological well being within the metropolis has been negatively impacted by the protests. Clarence Tsang, government director of Samaritans Befrienders Hong Kong, stated his group had seen 73 calls in June by individuals distressed in regards to the social motion, in comparison with solely a handful on this matter within the earlier months.
Within the face of all of the negativity, some individuals in Hong Kong have rallied round one another. Candice Powell, a medical psychologist, has arrange a hotline for journalists who’ve been traumatized by the violence they’ve seen. Lawmaker Roy Kwong — a former social employee — has emerged as a volunteer, on-call assist particular person to protesters.
In so-called Lennon Partitions across the metropolis, protesters have written notes on Put up-its, spurring one another on. “Expensive Hong Kong, all the things can be alright,” learn one.
Yong Pui-tung, the 28-year-old greatest buddy of Mak, stated others ought to discuss extra and to not really feel alone.
“I am actually afraid there can be an increasing number of, and I do not wish to see that form of factor occur once more,” she stated. “We must always all discuss extra to our associates — you should not really feel alone as a result of everyone seems to be with us.
“Hong Kong individuals, we stand as one and we should always keep sturdy.”
Kwong, in the meantime, urged protesters to consider the long run, which he did not consider was as unfavorable as many anticipated.
“I feel individuals must preserve a standard, calm perspective,” he stated. “They should know it is a steady combat.”
Contributions: CNN’s Stephy Chung, Maisy Mok, Jessie Yeung, Jadyn Sham and Charmaine Lee contributed to this report from Hong Kong.