Humans of Hong Kong

Humans of Hong Kong

Translated version of feature stories and interviews by Stand News. 立場新聞專題、人訪的英文版本。

2019/11/20 - 16:31

The Longest Day: Housewives, Students, and Protesters in the Besieged PolyU

Humans of Hong Kong 為《立場新聞》新欄目,刊出由特約作者翻譯、英文版本的立場專題、人物專訪,方便國際讀者閱讀。

"Humans of Hong Kong" is a brand new column highlighting the English version of feature stories and interviews by Stand News.

On Nov. 17 at Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), the air was tinged with the pungent smell of tear gas; the atmosphere was heavy with fear and foreboding.

In a statement released at around 9:30pm, the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) urged people inside PolyU to “leave immediately through the exit at Block Y of Lee Shau Kee Building in northern direction,” citing the actions of rioters who “hurled bricks and petrol bombs, jeopardising public safety,'' behaviour which “made people’s hair stand on end”. However, live reports from PolyU said that many people who left via this exit were arrested; media also reported that there was tear gas smoke near Y-Core Exit, and the police were also suspected of using stun grenades, tear gas rounds, and other weapons. Many citizens and protesters who had originally intended on leaving were driven back to the campus grounds.

廣告

Mrs. Lee was sweating profusely as she stepped out of a kitchen at PolyU, clothes soiled by gravy. She and a few middle-aged people had seen the news earlier about the “Cafe Resistance” on campus and volunteered to help that afternoon.

“We’re not here to protest, we’re not rioters, we are just here to wash some vegetables, do some cooking, and do the dishes,” said Mrs. Lee. But by the time they finished busying themselves, the campus had already been blockaded. “We heard that a group of people were arrested and charged with rioting right after they left the campus. Of course we were scared. It had become impossible to leave.”

Mrs. Lee, Mrs. Ng and Vivian each entered PolyU yesterday afternoon to back up the protesters. They met in the kitchen while volunteering their help.

Mrs. Lee, Mrs. Ng and Vivian each entered PolyU yesterday afternoon to back up the protesters. They met in the kitchen while volunteering their help.

Quoting the Police Public Relations Bureau, the Hong Kong Journalists' Association said “all those who leave Polytechnic University will be arrested unless they can produce valid press pass.” At midnight, the police also warned the protesters to stop all attacks, including using petrol bombs, arrows, and other such lethal weapons, or else they would retaliate with live ammunition.

Heavily besieged by scores of police, all those trapped in PolyU face the possibility of 10-year prison sentences if charged with “rioting”; they are also under the threat of death, should the police storm the campus or use live ammunition.

Ah Wai was sobbing when he spoke to our reporter. He was terrified. “I’ve sent my personal information to those I fought alongside with before...” He was ready to die fighting. “I don’t want to bow to the totalitarian authority, to the government. I don’t want to see this beautiful world and wonderful city ruined, and our freedom and happiness taken away.”

What on earth happened in PolyU on this, the longest day? Our reporters visited different corners of the campus to ask those who stayed — whether they were frontline protesters, first aiders, legislators, elderly members of the “Guard Our Children’s Future” group, or housewives who volunteered to cook — what they were fighting for, what they feared, and what they were worried about.

Besieged and trapped, what have they experienced, and what do they have to say to the free people outside?

*   *   *

17 November 19:30 - 23:00

The campus with no escape

On Nov. 17, PolyU was in a state of chaos. As messages circulated about the blockade of the campus and the possibility that the police would use live rounds, multiple last wills began to circulate online, written by none other than the hundreds who were trapped on campus. As our reporters walked around, we discovered that there were not a lot of PolyU students left on site. Whenever people got lost, and asked if there were people who know the campus, it usually went unanswered. Our reporters also found that most who stayed hadn’t intended to guard the campus with their lives. Among the interviewees — from protesters who stayed since the beginning, to those who came as reinforcements later on — the majority didn’t expect to be trapped. By the time they realized they could only stay, however, they didn’t regret showing up in the first place, in the spirit of an oft-repeated mantra among protesters – “We advance and retreat as one.” (齊上齊落)

Legislator Ted Hui entered PolyU at 7:30pm, he said the situation inside was already chaotic.

He saw many young secondary school students. “They told me that they really wanted to leave, but couldn’t.” So he tried to look for an exit for the students; he tried three to four places, but all were guarded by the police. “Protesters were trying some narrow, hidden routes. Some even cut the wire fences to get out. But at the front and rear entrances and even the hilltop behind, the police were there, flashlights out and ready.” At some points, they were even fired upon with tear gas, forcing them to return to the campus.

Ted Hui

Ted Hui

Hui had tried to reason calmy with the police, pointing out that some of those trapped were just ordinary citizens who wanted to leave. What he found, however, was that many police were in a state of frenzy and heightened agitation, shouting insults endlessly.

“With police armed with live ammunition in such a mental state, I feel like this could be a repeat of the June Fourth massacre, that’s what worried me most,” he said.

Looking at the people on the campus, his heart was aching with pain: “So many young people, and what’s it all for? It’s to defend this campus. They don’t want to attack and repel the police, they just want to prevent the police from entering. These are people fighting for democracy and freedom, should they be treated this way and made to suffer?”

At around 9pm, members of the “Guard Our Children’s Future” group, wearing yellow vests, attempted to leave the campus, but the police forbade them from leaving.  The members, including Mrs. Law, decided to stay and protect the children to the very end.

Mrs. Law is a 60-year-old with two children and two grandchildren. Since July 21, she has practically been taking to the streets without fail, later donning the yellow vest of “Guard Our Children’s Future” group.

“People in my age, we haven’t got many burdens at home as our kids are all grown up. Given the current situation, I just couldn’t bear to watch the youngsters do it on their own,” she said.

At 4pm on Sunday, out of concern for the protesters on the campus, Mrs Law and other members rushed to the scene. “All we did was to take care of the injured and those in need, just helping the young ones.”

As night fell, the situation became increasingly tense: The police cordoned off the campus, and those at the scene were filled with dread. During the interview, Mrs Law’s family called constantly to check on her. Yet she remained surprisingly calm.

“These last few years, I’ve had the feeling that nobody knows when you go to sleep tonight, whether you’ll see another day tomorrow. It could be a natural disaster or man-made catastrophe; it could be an illness. They come at you anytime, anywhere — nobody can predict what’s coming.” As a Christian, she believes she understands life and death. “I have no idea what will happen in the next moment. But I cannot just stand still now because I’m afraid of dying later.”

Mrs. Law

Mrs. Law

One by one, protesters who were knocked to the ground by the water cannon were rinsed off by first-aiders; the conditions on the scene were chaotic, with some protesters crying in agony in front of reporters and Mrs. Law. She knew that she couldn’t do much.

“Apart from feeling heartbroken, there is nothing I can do to help.” She was prepared to be arrested; her only hope in being there at the scene was to let the young protesters know, especially if they weren’t accepted by their families: “In this world, there are so many people who love you; in this world, there’s still love.”

*   *   *

17/11 23:00 - 18/11 02:00

Facing injury and death

On the night of Nov. 17, the scenes outside the PolyU campus were tense and volatile. At the crossroads between Chatham Road South and Austin Road, large numbers of protesters were confronted with water cannon trucks and armoured vehicles. The police repeatedly fired water cannons on protesters, who in turn responded with Molotov cocktails. During the confrontations, many were injured and had to return to the PolyU campus for emergency treatment.

When our reporter approached a protester named Janson, he was resting after having just been hit by a water cannon, and was receiving first aid treatment.

“We were only shouting at the police when a water cannon vehicle rushed towards us and fired us with blue-dyed water and pepper-laced water.” This was not the only time Janson was hit by a water cannon that day.

“My entire body stings now. I didn’t feel much at first, but after a while it stings really badly, and my body feels like it’s burning.” Why did he stay here despite being injured? Janson said he had learnt from the lesson of the battle at the Chinese University (CUHK) “After everyone left CUHK, Tolo Highway was reclaimed; if we let them take back control of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, it will be business as usual tomorrow and everything we did before would go down the drain.” He said that the worst case scenario would be for the police to force their way into the campus and himself being charged with rioting. Is he mentally prepared?

“Yes,”he replied very softly.

Janson, protester.

Janson, protester.

Facing the possibility of being arrested or even shot by live rounds, the protesters inside the campus held different views.

Some, like Mr. Lee, a university student in the UK, were more optimistic. Speaking with the journalist past midnight, he had been on the campus for 10 hours. Mr. Lee believed that defending PolyU was strategically important.

“We have to remind ourselves what was the purpose of blocking the roads around these particular universities? It’s because there’s important infrastructure. The Cross-Harbour Tunnel is here,”he said.

Although protesters were trapped and were at a disadvantaged position, police hadn’t made it into the campus yet.

“They tried water cannon trucks, armoured vehicles, even riot police. But we still held our line of defence.” He hoped that the police could reach a consensus with the legislators. “At the end, we’ll be retreating like what happened in CUHK.” Mr. Lee’s friend Hailey, who was by his side, bluntly expressed that they weren’t worried about not being able to leave.

“I can’t be worried about this, can I? If I were worried every time I went out, I would just stay home.”

As the clock ticked, some people – like Pat, a volunteer first-aider – started to worry about their situation. That was Pat’s second time volunteering to be a first-aider.

“The police have presumed that everyone inside the campus is a rioter. You won’t be safe even if you are a reporter or a first-aider… The worst case for me is to be charged. I know the worst outcome, all I can do is accept it. There’s nothing I can do now.” That was around 1am. When the protesters were taking a break as the battle cooled down a little bit, they heard that a group of people were arrested when trying to leave the campus through Y-Core. At that moment, Pat and five or six first-aiders were taking a rest by the exit of Y-Core.

Pat said that he came alone that day and he wasn’t updated with the news. He only found out that he had been trapped after nightfall. When asked whether he had any regrets, he pondered for a while and said, “It depends. If I look at it from a broader perspective, I have no regrets. I’m witnessing history in the making, even though I’m not one of the makers.” What if the police use live rounds? Pat’s voice finally wavered.

“As a first-aider, I’ve kept witnessing injustice in Hong Kong. I want to do what I can. If they shoot live rounds and my life is threatened, it may not be a bad thing. At least I won’t have to see what’s going to happen in the future.”

Another frontline protester who also spoke of death was Jerry. Having stayed at PolyU for nearly three days, he admitted that resources were rapidly depleting. The situation was becoming increasingly dangerous, but he refused to give up.

“I will keep defending this place until I die; I will do my best to protect other people.” In the face of death, he was scared. He also said that he had already sent his personal information to other protesters.

Jerry had already thought through what he would do if the police invaded the campus. “I will do my best to kill the police to protect other protesters. I won’t hold anything back. I won’t show them mercy out of my own conscience.” He didn’t have close ties with his family. “I told my mom that if I died, it would be none of her business; she is so blue [pro-Chinese regime] that she’s black. From the start, I have thought of myself as an orphan.” Facing the possibility that his life might be coming to an end, Jerry said his greatest regret was failing to use his time wisely.

“I played too many computer games in the past and didn’t study a lot; I wasted too much time, and was unable to do other things that I’d wanted to do.” If he could start all over again, how would he change?

“I’d read more books, learn more about military strategy, and remember it all in my head, so that protesters don’t have to struggle so much; or perhaps I’ll memorise the maps better, so that I don’t have to get lost all the time.” Jerry’s voice choked up with tears.

*   *   *

18/11 02:00 - 06:00

Conundrum: Break out or stay back?

Around midnight on Nov. 18, the protesters on the PolyU campus remained wide awake. Nearby in Yau Ma Tei and Tsim Sha Tsui, people gathered to back them up. Floods of Telegram and LIHKG messages called for more to gather and wait for PolyU protesters to break their way out, then to merge into one group.

“I thought people would stir things up elsewhere to save us, but calls have led to little action. I don’t know, it feels like we’re fighting alone,” 16-year-old Form 5 student DP said.

DP was on campus with his mother that night.

“Having witnessed so many fellows getting arrested, so many suspected to be murdered, and also because of what happened to our classmates Chow (Tsz Lok) and Chan Yin Lam [both deaths were rumored to covered up by the police], it’s natural to get more and more angry and go further to the front, wanting to do more.” He said his whole family very much leaned “yellow” [pro-democrats] on the political spectrum, and while his father couldn’t join because of work, his mother came with him and was cooking in the kitchen. He was happy with her decision to come but he also felt guilty. As the police warned of escalating actions, DP began to worry.

“We don’t know how long we can defend ourselves here. And I’m scared, things could happen tonight. There’s just no way to leave; they say they’ll let us leave but people are arrested once they get outside.”

He admitted that he was growing more pessimistic. “Once we’re trapped here, and if people don’t save us from outside, that’ll be the end.”

On the night of Nov. 18, people inside PolyU were watching the live news stream.

On the night of Nov. 18, people inside PolyU were watching the live news stream.

Other than waiting to get arrested or get rescued, what else can be done? From midnight till dawn, protesters in PolyU had discussed numerous times whether they should break through the police blockade. There were two camps: Those in support of taking the offensive said that they shouldn’t wait for their doom. The crowds outside were waiting for them to break out, meet up, and launch a unified attack on the police. If they didn’t leave, the number of people injured will only grow, as protesters fought back the police at the front entrance. Those outside would also be implicated and arrested. Those in support of this mainly comprised of full-geared, “valiant” frontliners (勇武) [1]. Some who participated in the discussion were equipped with bows and arrows.

Yet there were also others speakers, mostly female and spoke politely with a soft voice, who advocated for staying. The reason was that there were many first-aiders on campus without any gear, and many of the injured who shouldn’t be left unattended. In the spirit of “advancing and retreating as one,” (齊上齊落) no one should be left behind. These speakers also emphasized that, if they were to charge, they should bring together everyone on campus, discuss and plan their respective routes, and then coordinate with people outside to act in concert. But another problem arose: Everyone was spread across the campus past midnight. Some were taking a nap in the gymnasium while some were resting in the canteen. It was impossible to gather everyone. As observed by our reporter, at the peak, there were at most a hundred people gathered to discuss their next move on the top of the long staircase next to A-Core.

Not having been able to reach a consensus after a long discussion, a few protesters who were in favour of breaking out began to get impatient. Some grumbled: “They say they want the revolution of our time [時代革命), but they’re dithering. You guys are totally useless! Come on, let’s go!” Upon finishing the sentence, they rose to their feet. That time in the early morning, about 70-80% of people involved in the discussion followed.

But whether people supported going on the offensive or staying behind, “surrender” never came up as an option in the discussions – no one suggested laying down their weapons and turning themselves in, nor did anyone say they regretted coming in. Most also felt that there was no way back, because they would be arrested regardless.

At around 5am, the police suddenly attacked the front entrance of PolyU, arresting several people. The Special Tactical Force [literally “Raptor Team” in Cantonese] at one point entered the University Medical Centre next to the long staircase at the front entrance of the university, shouting: “Freeze! Hands up high! Everyone up against the wall and put down your phones!” The wounded and the first aiders were arrested, while a phone on the floor was still live streaming and seemed to be discovered by an officer, who bellowed: “Whose phone is this? Live streaming?!” After the police and those arrested had left, our reporter entered the scene and found large blood stains in the Medical Centre, and a handwritten letter.

“Sorry! Due to the Special Tactical Force’s sudden assault, I had to enter your room, I apologise deeply, I hope you will understand and sympathise, sorry,” it read.

18/11 06:30 - 08:00

A difficult decision: Switch gear or break out?

The young people on site were visibly anxious and increasingly despondent. Most stopped discussing blocking the Cross-Harbour Tunnel or continuing the “General Strike”, and instead asked: “How can we leave?”

Suggestions to abandon their gear and change their clothes began to spread on Telegram. In this way, even if they were arrested, it would be harder for the police to charge them with rioting. This suggestion was adopted. More and more teenagers in casual wear, without any gear, appeared on the campus, including Jacky and Edwin, who had stayed for more than 10 hours.

“We have to defend the campus. Otherwise, the police will just storm in. We are very exhausted after the skirmishes with police last night.”

On one hand, they understood that the police had declared the university as a rioting ground, and those who got caught within would be charged with rioting. Meanwhile, they hoped that changing clothes could help them escape safely. At that point they were told that there would be an evening prayer at S-Core, as in, a “religious-assemblies-do-not-require-permits” kind of gathering. Upon hearing this information, secondary students in casual wear at Y-Core, who were talking to journalists, all rushed off to the gathering without finishing answering the questions.

On the other hand, people discussed how they could break out. Discussions on tactics got increasingly fierce since midnight. “I don’t think we have to break out, but so many people want to go…” said Ah Kai, one of the protesters, “Ultimately, we cannot receive supplies from here. If we can get out, at least we can have a supply line, otherwise we might as well starve to death.”

At around 8pm, someone called upon the protesters, saying: “Let’s get out of here. There’s no point in merely defending the campus! Let’s go!” More than 100 protesters assembled at the platform. Each of those at the front was holding a Molotov cocktail. They marched down the stairs of the main entrance, crossed the road and walked along the Science Museum Road. However, they came across riot police at the intersection on Cheong Wan Road. A massive volley of tear gas canisters and pepper-spray balls rained on them. The protesters couldn’t find a way out, even with the Molotov cocktail. After half an hour, they were driven back to the campus.

Some students returning from the streets said that, “Whether we stay or leave, we will die either way.”

Ah Kai

Ah Kai

18/11 09:00 - 12:30

Exhausted all weapons and supplies?

After the first breakout attempt failed, the atmosphere of fear around campus spread further. Rumors circulated all over the campus and Telegram groups that the food supply at PolyU could only last until 1pm, and that there was not enough drinking water. There were appeals for citizens to go on strike as soon as possible and rush to Tsim Sha Tsui area to help by surrounding the police siege.

Vivian, a mom volunteering at “Cafe Resistance” confirmed the situation to the reporter: The ingredients she had on hand were only enough for another half-day, and there was a shortage of bottled water. “This morning we were already asking the fellows to refill their bottles, saving some for those closest to the frontline,” she said. “There aren’t many vegetables left; they aren’t enough if we have two, three hundred more people… Either we break out, or starve to death.”

Vivian praised the young people there as being “very well-mannered.” “And everything was so organized––even if they had just returned from the frontline, when they saw only two of us in the kitchen, they came to help. I’m talking about those on the very front. I mean… these kids are so well-mannered, and smart, but the government treats them like this.” As she spoke she began to sob. “I’m not scared because … [looking at people outside] On Facebook, lots of people are saying that they are worried about us, but … they have never been out! Don’t tell me how worried you are, or talk about a massacre … [sobs] … Don’t say these useless things to me! If you’re really worried, if you’re really scared about people dying, just come here to help us, what are you waiting for? You’re still going to work! Are you kidding me?”

At the same time, the number of Molotov cocktails in the campus decreased. Our reporters had seen a lot of them on the campus the night before. However, as the armoured vehicle and water cannon trucks tried to march in, protesters had to fight back using the Molotov cocktails. That’s why the numbers had been decreasing so quickly. In the next morning, after the breakout failed, there were only a few left at the gate next to A-Core and Y-Core. There was none found in other areas.

Since they failed to break out from the main entrance, some protesters tried to find any hidden routes that could allow them to evade the police. There were rumours flying around saying that the basement of certain buildings were connected to the parking lots of buildings outside the campus. The drainage pipe was also considered. Some youngsters teamed up  in groups of two or three to look for a way out. However, after an hour, they returned telling other protesters that all possible exits were heavily guarded by the police.

Some people tried to find rooms to hide in. The number of people on campus gradually dwindled; it’s unclear whether they managed to escape successfully or were arrested halfway.

Polytechnic University

Polytechnic University

18/11 12:30 - 14:00

The second and third breakouts

After noon, the remaining several hundred youths twice attempted to break out at 12:30pm and 1:30pm, but both attempts ended in failure. Each time they left in neat formation, but before long they would pull back to the campus in haste, looking completely flustered.

The third breakout was the most tragic one. A young man returning to the campus was devastated and burst into tears,“I don’t know what I did to make them to treat us this way. I don’t want anything happen to my friends! I’ve already worried my family! We only want to leave! Why don’t they give us a way out!”

Some lost control and kept kicking the water bottles on the ground. Some yelled at their phone, “I can’t even leave, how can I know if your son is safe?”

Ah Tim recalled how, when the protesters had heard that there had been an increasing number of people gathering at Tsim Sha Tsui to save them, and that some people at Chatham Road South might be able to reach the cordon line, the protesters in the campus wanted to storm out to find them. However, they then came across a large number of riot police on their way. “They fired more than 100 tear gas canisters and we were shielding ourselves with umbrellas. No one was attacking, no one was using petrol bombs . But they didn’t stop shooting at us. The smoke from the tear gas was so thick that we could see nothing. They almost suffocated us. .”

“Then, the riot police started shooting at us from just one or two meters away. They had no intention of arresting us, but were shooting at us uninterruptedly as if we were live targets. My ear, neck, and shoulder all got hit thrice by rubber or foam bullets, and all around me I kept hearing the sound of pepper spraying,” Ah Tim said as he wept. “We were shouting ‘we just want to go home’ as we walked back, we weren’t even resisting. I don't understand what kind of law enforcement this is by the police. They just wanted us dead. They just wanted to shoot and kill us.”

“I feel like the police will massacre us tonight and recreate June Fourth.”

The third breakout

The third breakout

PolyU student S lost contact with two other friends during the third breakout. S said, “They left their gear behind before they left the campus. They didn’t plan to join the breakout since they couldn’t run fast. But as they saw most people go, they decided to follow them. One of her friends ended up being arrested under the thick smoke from the tear gas; S sprained her leg, but with the help of other protesters, she climbed over the barricade and limped her way back to the campus with the other friend.

S said that she had felt increasingly disappointed since the morning. In the early morning they felt a piercing pain on their skin because they were sprayed by the blue-dye water from the water cannon. Still, they didn’t want to leave because they thought that if they could defend PolyU, they could continue to block the cross-harbour tunnel and extend the ‘General Strike’. They also believed that the people outside would try to save them. Even though they knew that a lot of people had gathered in Jordan and Tsim Sha Tsui, the number was far from enough. “I feel betrayed by them.”

“I don’t want to say that I misplaced my trust in other protesters, but I thought everyone would have been bolder. A lot of time it was only us at the front who were willing to charge at the police, but no one was covering for us when we wanted to step back after we were ‘smurfed’ and couldn’t see. The three of us are just really ordinary girls. We don’t know anything. We can’t run, or fight, but we keep coming out on the streets just to help the movement. I know we are all afraid of dying. So am I. But we still have to watch out for those on the front. Yesterday I kept seeing blinded frontliners groping their way back , but no one was offering a hand to them.”

Throughout the day, S had been receiving calls and texts checking on her whereabouts and safety. S simply thought the others were missing the point. “It doesn’t matter if I’m here or not. There are other people here who need help. All you do is to ask if I’m safe, yet there is no blossoming [protests] in the eighteen districts outside. No one is coming to our rescue. You people could have done a lot more!”

Nov. 18 afternoon, Nathan Road

Nov. 18 afternoon, Nathan Road

18/11 17:30

Life always finds a way?

Three hours after the third failed escape attempt, some of those who were trapped gathered in front of the stage of Block N for a meeting.

“I believe none of us wants to die here, or wait for them (the police) to storm in and arrest us. I know we don’t!” said one person with a loudspeaker. “No!” People echoed in unison. And so everyone started discussing their next escape plan, arguing if they should leave via A-Core or Y-Core.

Yet no consensus was made after some discussions. Some deemed A-Core to be too dangerous, while others believed they could receive reinforcement outside. Some believed they could breakout with the weaker police presence at Y-Core, while the rest were concerned that there would be no outside support, and that they would be ambushed. Eventually they decided to scout out A-Core before coming to a decision.

At night, a voice recording of a boy circulated widely online. “We are a group of people who are trapped in Polytechnic University for over thirty hours. We are exhausted. The Hong Kong government leaves us no alternative… Most of our bodies are filled with wounds and scars. We don’t know if we’ll make it through tonight, or tomorrow morning. Now, our only hope lies with our fellows who are battling to break the police's siege of PolyU from all corners to save us. If this hope perishes, our will probably won’t last us through tonight. If anyone is listening to this, I hope you will put down whatever is in your hand, come out, and save us. Carry with you a determination to save us––even if it costs you your life.”

But the opportunity for a breakout never arrived. The “peaceful, non-violent, and rational” protesters and a small presence of frontliners around Tsim Sha Tsui were not able to breach the police’s lines of defense. As the night went on, the young people in the campus could only keep searching for secret routes, while some roped down the footbridge outside Block Z. On the two ends of the bridge, sobbing people cried, “Run! Go!” “Don’t ever look back!”

Cherry, who helped people escape on the Z Bridge, told us: “To be honest, I also wanted to go. But seeing those kids who were younger than me, looking like they were in middle school, I had to let them go first. They’re so young.”

The reporter couldn’t help but ask her how old she was.

“Almost 20,” she answered.

“I’m prepared. For the worst.”

The worst?

“Rioting charges.”

Are you not afraid?

“I believe life always finds a way.”

Nov. 18 night, Z Bridge

Nov. 18 night, Z Bridge

[1] The pro-democracy protesters can be broadly divided into two types: (1) “Peaceful, Rational and Non-Violent” (PRN) refers to those who eschew violent forms of political expressions. (2) “Valiant” (勇武) protesters are their more radical counterparts, who are more ready to use force. They gear up with respirator masks, goggles, and hardhats, whilst “PRN” protesters usually only wear a surgical mask.

(Original version: 〈【特寫】The Longest Day 被困理大的師奶、學生、抗爭者〉)