Stand with Hong Kong


Ethan Vaughan

Faculty panel members Katherine Bryant, Heather Keaney, and Alister Chapman share their thoughts on Hong Kong protests.

Summer Escalera, Guest Writer

The Westmont community held an event last Friday evening to engage with the current humanitarian crisis surrounding protestors in Hong Kong, who are facing human rights violations at the hands of Hong Kong and Chinese authorities. Facilitated by the GLC residence life staff, the event featured first-hand testimonies, video footage of police brutality, and a faculty-led debrief. 

The protests began as a response to an extradition bill that would have given the Chinese government unchecked power to extradite citizens from Hong Kong to be tried in mainland China, based on as little evidence as facial recognition. 

Reports of police officers using expired tear gas canisters with traces of cyanide, capturing protestors after they went to hospitals to receive treatment, and torturing and using sexual violence against those arrested has led many to believe that the issues at hand transcend a national crisis into a humanitarian crisis. 

Brendon Sze, a Westmont senior and Hong Kong native, shared his own experiences attending protests during the summer. He voiced the anger, sense of betrayal, and despair for the future held by many witnesses of Hong Kong authorities’ violations against both the liberties and humanity of the citizens. 

Brendon further encouraged students and faculty to continue to engage with the events taking place in Hong Kong by staying informed, praying with intention, and supporting U.S. petitions to the White House advocating for international intervention. 

During the faculty panel, Professor Heather Keaney of the history department warned against the dangers of allowing complexity to be an excuse for complacency. She encouraged students to educate themselves in order to “find where the side of justice lies, stand there, and act from there.” 

Professor Alister Chapman, also of the history department, pointed out that protest is necessary for the health of any community. He insisted that anyone who holds power will be tempted to abuse it and that the events in Hong Kong highlight how precious democracy is. The rights we enjoy freely today can quickly disappear. 

Professor Katherine Bryant of the political science department drew attention to government tactics to try to distract a population and appease their discontent. Without actually addressing the issues at hand, some of the wealthy elites in Hong Kong are trying to use economic investments in public housing to get the public to move on. Yet their efforts appear to be in vain. Despite the risks, protesters in Hong Kong and all over the world continue to advocate against the civil, political, and humanitarian violations witnessed in Hong Kong. 

Although the faculty panel warned against western intervention, as the Chinese government may blame protests on it, and encouraged students to be mindful about how they are engaging, all three of the Hong Kong students who shared their experience asked for the international community to engage. 

Westmont junior and Hong Kong resident Matthew Metz pointed out how critical it is for those outside of Hong Kong to take our cues from those who are. When asked what that looked like for Matthew, he responded, “What I am doing here is raising awareness. This is what the people on the ground are doing … What they need right now is for the international community to step up and say no to Chinese human rights abuses.” 

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