Canada: A world away from Hong Kong, a 'Lennon Wall' supporting pro-democracy demonstrators springs up in Toronto - PressFrom - Canada
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CanadaA world away from Hong Kong, a 'Lennon Wall' supporting pro-democracy demonstrators springs up in Toronto

13:06  12 july  2019
13:06  12 july  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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The original Lennon Wall was started in 2014 during a wave of pro - democracy protests also known as the Umbrella Movement, where demonstrators called for A passer-by looks at a Lennon Wall with messages of support for the protest against the extradition bill in Hong Kong .The name comes from

Lennon Walls - walls plastered with colourful protests notes The bill has now been suspended and declared "dead" but demonstrators say they will not stop until it has been completely withdrawn. Conflict also broke out at another Lennon Wall near Hong Kong 's Yau Tong metro station on the

A world away from Hong Kong, a 'Lennon Wall' supporting pro-democracy demonstrators springs up in Toronto © Kelda Yuen/CBC Mimi Lee, left, and Kenny Yu, right, helped organize a 'Lennon Wall' in support of pro-democracy protesters outside Toronto's Union Station. Maria Leung was just a few years old when her father decided to whisk her and her family away from Hong Kong and bring them to Canada — but even a world away, worry over the fate of the city where she was born remains with her.

It was the mid-1990s and the city that had been under British colonial rule for 156 years was about to be handed back to the People's Republic of China.

The promise: one country, two systems. It was an arrangement that in theory would allow the approximately 6.5 million people of Hong Kong to hold on to freedoms otherwise not accessible in mainland China, such as an independent judiciary.

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HONG KONG — Thousands of pastel Post-it notes, marked with messages of support for pro - democracy demonstrators , form a fluttering collage that snakes around the wall of a staircase Still best known as an international financial center, and lacking a world -class art museum, Hong

During the 2014 pro - democracy Umbrella Movement, Hong Kong activists took inspiration from the Lennon Wall in Prague and established their own makeshift notice board Protesters set up a similar Lennon Wall this summer to carry messages supporting the anti-extradition Bill movement, but that

Under the terms of the agreement, Hong Kong would be guaranteed the right to retain its own legal and political system for 50 years from the time of the handover.

At midnight on July 1, 1997, Hong Kong reverted back to Chinese rule.

Leung's father didn't want any part of it.

"My dad decided, 'You know what, before that even happens, just move. Just get out of here,'" she recalls.

Kill the bill entirely, say demonstrators

It's a story familiar to many Canadians of Hong Kong origin, who immigrated during that time of uncertainty, when it wasn't clear what daily life might look with the new system. In 1994, migration from Hong Kong peaked with 48,000 people moving from the city to Canada.

Less than 25 years later, fear over China's tightening grip over the city has prompted hundreds of thousands in Hong Kong to take to the streets in protest, making headlines around the world.

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Lennon Walls - walls plastered with colourful protests notes The bill has now been suspended and declared "dead" but demonstrators say they will not stop until it has been completely withdrawn. Conflict also broke out at another Lennon Wall near Hong Kong 's Yau Tong metro station on the

Hong Kong has its own judiciary and a separate legal system from China and there's growing fear that the extradition bill weakens that separation. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who are opposed to a proposed Hong Kong law allowing extraditions to China protested in the streets.

The latest demonstrations, which saw a group of protesters shatter glass to break into Hong Kong's legislative building — condemned by China as "violent" and "serious illegal attacks" — came in response to a proposed amendment to an extradition law that would allow for suspects to be sent to mainland China to face trial there.

Police meanwhile, used tear gas and rubber bullets against demonstrators, sparking criticism they were too heavy handed.

This week, after months of protest, Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam deemed the bill "dead," saying the government's work on the legislation had been a "total failure."

But that's little comfort to Mimi Lee, who on Thursday, set up a "Lennon Wall" outside Toronto's Union Station to show demonstrators in Hong Kong "they're not alone."

'A very empty promise'

It's a colourful display of sticky notes for passersby to write messages of support to those protesting in the city — inspired by a wall in Prague dedicated to the memory of John Lennon during the Velvet Revolution against communist rule. One like it became a fixture during Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests in 2014.

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Thousands of protesters demanding free elections took to Hong Kong ’s streets on Sunday in the first large rally since demonstrators brought the city to a standstill last year. Protesters march while holding yellow umbrellas, the pro - democracy movement’s symbol of resistance.

A pro - democracy demonstrator pours water over a man’s face after police fired teargas at protesters in Hong Kong . Photograph: Xaume Olleros/AFP/Getty Images. While some left as police fired teargas – a highly unusual tactic in Hong Kong – others appeared to have been galvanised by officers’ tactics.

Lee says Lam must do much more than just declare the extradition bill dead.

"She has to say it will be withdrawn," she said. "That's the word, we need that word."

I'm Chinese and I understood freedom after I came here. - Lydia Zhang

Like many, Lee wants to see Hong Kong's government put the final nail in the bill to make sure it can't be brought back. Until that happens, she worries extradition to China might not be off the table.

"We know the two Michaels from Canada, what happened to them," she said, referring to detained businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, in Chinese custody since December 2018. "There's no concrete evidence of anything and they got detained."

Kenny Yu, who moved to Canada from Hong Kong six months ago, isn't convinced either.

A world away from Hong Kong, a 'Lennon Wall' supporting pro-democracy demonstrators springs up in Toronto © Associated Press/Kin Cheung Tens of thousands of protesters carried posters and banners through the streets of Hong Kong to protest against the extradition bill.

"I don't know how the world perceives the message that the bill is dead, but from my point of view ... it is actually a very rubbish idea," Yu said. "This is something that's a very empty promise to us."

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Hong Kong ’s chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, urged protest leaders to immediately withdraw demonstrators from the centre of the city on Tuesday, as they Thousands of pro - democracy protesters remain in the streets of downtown Hong Kong on Tuesday afternoon local time.

Hong Kong ’s protesters come from a huge swath of society and have no single leader, but there is a group of figureheads.

'Taking away our freedom'

Among others who turned out to the Lennon Wall in Toronto Thursday was Lydia Zhang.

A world away from Hong Kong, a 'Lennon Wall' supporting pro-democracy demonstrators springs up in Toronto © Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images On July 1, protesters smashed glass doors and windows to break into the parliament chamber of Legislative Council Complex.

Zhang has been in Canada 12 years and says she was inspired to stop to write a message of support for the pro-democracy movement because of her experience living in mainland China.

"I'm Chinese and I understood freedom after I came here. Looking back to my country and then knowing it is important for them to speak up for what is right, what is wrong ... It's not that authority equals right."

The concern for Lee and many others watching the developments in Hong Kong from their home in Canada is that the city where they were born will soon just be a memory, with the rights and freedoms they remember lost to China's iron-clad rule.

For Leung, who came to Canada as a child just before the handover, it's that worry that made her stop to show her support.

"They're basically taking away our freedom... This is the least I can do."

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