By Kevin Lair
Senior Elm Writer
Hero: Protestors in Hong Kong
As students in America, we are blessed with having a voice in our government and the ability to express our political beliefs and views on our elected officials. We also have the right to vote for our elected representatives or kick them out of office. Students in Hong Kong are currently fighting for that chance of self-determination and a representative government not handpicked and coerced by Beijing.
Protests have raged on for more than a week across the semi-autonomous territory as people of all ages and backgrounds seek greater oversight in electing their representatives. The Hong Kong Federation of Students has played a pivotal role in fighting for an open dialogue with accountability and self-determination. Their pro-democracy efforts and protests have been met with beatings, sexual molestations, and other forms of brutality by opponents while police stand idle, according to protest leader Edward Tsoi.
When interviewed by CNN, student protestor Wilson Wong said, “We just want a peaceful dialogue, but we’re scared because they’re using violence…we’re very nervous and our hands are shaking, even as we hold on to each other.”
These students have organized themselves and are protesting for a chance to elect their own representatives. They want the chance to elect leaders for Hong Kong who will actually prioritize Hong Kong over Beijing. This week’s hero is not one person but a group of students and ideas worth fighting for—freedom, democracy, and self-determination.
Zero: Those Who Oppose Them
This week’s loser is just the opposite—coercive governments that will strike down any attempt at open dialogues and self-determination. Whether it be in China, the Middle East, or here in Chewstertown, every person should have the right to express his or her beliefs without fear of beatings or imprisonment. It is our responsibility as students to ensure that the students of Hong Kong, Baghdad, and Missouri have that right to air their complaints and say what they believe.
Unfortunately, these coercive actions are not limited to corrupt officials or dictators; our own politicians reject open dialogues and debates, and whenever one party has control, they push whatever agenda they have, irrespective of popular opinion or the good of the country.
Elsewhere in the world, terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) frighten, mutilate, and kill to acquire power and force people into submission. Still, that has not stopped brave citizens in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere who have rejected ISIS’s brutality even if it meant being killed for doing so.
No matter how afraid you are, doing nothing guarantees that nothing will change. It is up to you, the students, the community, and idealists to bring about the change you want and need. Students in Hong Kong and around the world have taken these steps, defied oppressive regimes, dictators, and terrorists. We are a nation founded by idealists who knew that oppression and intolerance were unacceptable and over time we have made significant progress in these respects. Now we must lend a helping hand to students and citizens around the world who are fighting for just a portion of what we are blessed to have.