This post is also available in: Spanish
Statement earlier this month from Hong Kong’s ethnic minority community:
Ethnic Minorities: Hong Kong is Our Home – Condemn violence! Oppose manipulation! No racial prejudice!
We are a group of first, second and third generation ethnic minorities who have lived in Hong Kong throughout the 80s and 90s, both during British rule and after the handover. We have seen changes throughout our time in Hong Kong, but for most of us, we have remained on the margins of society as second class citizens, with many prejudices against us and numerous government policies that ignore or harm us. But still time and time again we have persevered; we fall down but somehow slowly pick ourselves up again. We have faced challenges in our lives in school, at work and even within our neighborhoods and communities, but nonetheless Hong Kong is still our home. Many of our parents are immigrants who felt secluded from Hong Kong society, coming here to make a living before returning to their homelands. Even though they have contributed to Hong Kong’s workforce and economic progress, they never felt fully accepted and were always seen as foreigners, just another group of migrant workers.
But we were born and raised here.
Little did our parents realize or foresee that the children they raised in Hong Kong would call only this city as their home, and no place else – that they would see this place as their future, and that they would see themselves as Hong Kongers and not belonging to their parents’ motherlands.
As we pass the one month mark of the Umbrella Movement, we are proud to have stood with our fellow Hong Kongers from the start. We have marched through these streets every night, held discussions, sung songs, shared food, helped clean and shared our culture and art to promote democracy. By being there, by marching there, by supporting them – these Hong Kongers who have stayed days and nights, through wind, rain, humidity and heat – we have given them a huge lift in spirits, a morale boost. Locals and expats alike ask us one thing: Why do you care? What’s in it for you? Why call yourselves Hong Kongers when all along, you have been marginalized by these very same people?
Our answer is simple. No matter what the struggles, pain and disappointment we felt throughout our time in Hong Kong, we feel as much pride in this city and its values as anyone else. We have been part of Hong Kong throughout its history; we continue to contribute to an economically strong and free Hong Kong. If today we don’t stand with our fellow Chinese brothers and sisters in the fight to safeguard our liberty, values and rights, then when else can we do so? We as much as them have a stake in Hong Kong. This is our city as much as theirs; we are worried as much as them. We are not fighting together just for today but for tomorrow, for the future and for the generations ahead. We Hong Kongers have tasted freedom and we can’t just suddenly be programmed to accept less. In the true spirit of Hong Kong, we will overcome these obstacles, just as we have overcome numerous financial tsunamis and economic downturns, the SARS epidemic, the pre-handover uncertainty, the threat of national education, the danger of Article 23 and many more hurdles. We shall overcome!
Last but not least, we, the ethnic minority youth of Hong Kong, the truly locally-raised ones, the ones with true Hong Kong values instilled in us, are shocked and ashamed of the behavior of certain individuals from our community. Mr. Mohammed Aslam’s case* is one of the few isolated incidents, sensationalized by the unfortunately biased media. We are sadly and painfully associated with such shameful individuals, when we have done nothing wrong, when we have given up so much of our time and energy to be with the movement daily. We are ashamed of the ethnic minority groups who are sweet-talked into joining anti-democracy movements by political groups or parties who say they support the ethnic minorities, but who in reality cheat, betray and ignore us in our times of need.
Unfortunately, many ethnic minorities are in such vulnerable economic situations that they have no choice but to join these movements, not knowing that in the long run that they will be most affected by the loss of Hong Kong’s freedoms. They often do not know that the Umbrella Movement is for everyone in Hong Kong – them included. We stand together as true local ethnic minority Hong Kongers to condemn such violent, cowardly and shameful acts, and to emphasize that these few, isolated cases do not represent the majority of the ethnic minority community.
We plead with the general public and media not to jump to conclusions about ethnic minorities from these incidents, not to form biased thoughts or ideas about ethnic minorities, such as believing that we are all blue ribbon supporters or that we are violent people only there for the money. We will say it now, and we will say it later. We are Hong Kongers, and we will stand with the Umbrella Movement, with the students and with the public until the end. No matter what the result, we will say it again: Hong Kong will be a stronger and more unified city, because this movement has awoken our spirits.
[* Editor’s note: Mohammed Aslam, local Pakistani youth leader, sided with the anti-occupy opposition in a moment.]