There’s a 16 year old girl at the heart of Hong Kong’s democracy movement. She wears a white surgical mask and is known only as The Chalk Girl.
When the UK handed back the city to China in 1997, the people were promised that they would see a gradual move towards full democracy. Today many young people believe that Beijing is not complying with this promise.
That’s the reason why in 2014 the Umbrella Movement led a number of massive protests in which the call for democracy took over the streets in an unparalleled uprising. The majority of the protesters were young people, mostly students, and they were relentless. The protests were judged as portraying an unprecedented display of defiance. But the young people were simply calling out for democracy and freedom. Still Beijing branded them as disrupters who were sowing chaos.
On December 23, 2014 a young activist started drawing a flower on the wall in the protest area. She was arrested because of this. The story spread all over the news and people began calling her ‘Chalk Girl’. Almost overnight she became a celebrity, but Hong Kong continued to fall apart. Despite the negative attention, Chalk Girl and a few others sustained the fight and redefined themselves as ‘Localists’.
In January 2016 the government shut down a traditional New Year street market in Hong Kong. A call had gone out over the Internet for locals to support the street vendors by stopping by their stands to buy whatever they were offering. Suddenly a group of policemen dressed in riot gear charged toward the patrons and a revolt broke out. The Localists had only intended to take direct action against the government, but many people misunderstood their choices and criticized them viciously.
In the month of September 2016 the Chalk Girl’s generation faced their first elections since those protests. They were unwilling for Hong Kong to become just another city in China. They wanted to safeguard their culture and their language by reclaiming Hong Kong and demanding autonomy from Beijing.
Chalk Girl is aware of the fact that she’s not an adult yet and still needs to submit to her father’s authority, but she is proof that when a group of young people set their minds to create change by questioning the establishment, nothing and no one is able to stop them.