From blank post-it notes to coded slogans hidden in murals, Hong Kong activists are coming up with creative ways to skirt Beijingâ€™s new national security law.
FILE PHOTO: Supporters raise white paper to avoid slogans banned under the national security law as they support arrested anti-law protester outside Eastern court in Hong Kong, China July 3, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo
The anti-government protest movement that escalated in June last year spawned an explosion of public art and graffiti, some of it calling for independence for the Chinese-ruled territory or urging residents to â€œliberateâ€ the financial hub.
But the cityâ€™s government said last week the popular slogan â€œLiberate Hong Kong, revolution of our timesâ€, daubed on walls and banners, amounted to a call for separatism or subversion – offences punishable with long jail terms under the new law.
In response, one 50-year-old campaigner held up a blank sheet of paper at a small lunch-time protest on Monday.
The point, he said was to highlight what he saw as censorship. And everyone already knew the slogans by heart, he added, so there was no longer any need to write them down.
â€œThese slogans will always be in my heart and those words will always stay on white paper, which will never disappear,â€ said the man, who wore a mask and only gave his surname, Leung.
Elsewhere in the city, walls that were once colourful canvases of political murals and graffiti tags were covered over in white paint or blank post-it notes.
Other protesters used art or designs to disguise the â€œLiberate Hong Kongâ€ slogans, changing characters, blurring lettering or burying the words in illustrations.
Back at the protest, another man in a black cap and white surgical mask hung a banner from his neck with the words: â€œArise, ye who refuse to be slavesâ€ – a call for change that might be harder to prosecute as it is a line from Chinaâ€™s national anthem.
Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong say the law that came into force last week targets a minority of â€œtroublemakersâ€. But protesters and international critics have called it a Chinese encroachment on the cityâ€™s cherished freedoms.