The protests in Hong Kong over China's tightening control continue to escalate. Over the last few months, the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) has taken to attacking and arresting any and all participants, occasionally including journalists, with increasing levels of violence. These arrests occur, not just at the many demonstrations and marches, but after the fact. It has become vital for protesters to protect their identities.
Protesters have generally used regular clothing in order to partially cover their faces, and for the most part, that has sufficed. Recently, however, protesters have begun to don Guy Fawkes masks as both a means of protection and as a way to symbolize their anti-authoritarian cause. While Hong Kong has continuously seen the rare use of the mask since the protests began in June, it has slowly become one of the more prevalent symbols used, and has recently appeared on several protesters at both marches and at press conferences.
China's growing influence in Hong Kong (as well as the rest of South East Asia) has manifested in many ways, including, but not limited to, the implementation of a city-wide surveillance system (the feed is sent to China) and controversial holding facilities on the outskirts of Hong Kong, where protest participants are taken, often without reasonable cause. While none of it seems to have discouraged protesters, it has forced them to protect their identities, not just for themselves, but for the sake of their families as well.
The mask was designed by David Lloyd for the 1982 graphic novel, V for Vendetta (illustrated by Lloyd and written by Alan Moore). The novel, along with the 2005 film adaptation of the same name, popularized the mask as an anti-authoritarian symbol. Protesters around the world have used it over the past several decades when demonstrating against a variety of powerful figures from politicians to corporations and now, authoritarian nations.
As China celebrated 70 years of rule under the Chinese Communist Party on October 1st, pro-democracy supporters in major cities all around the world held Global Anti-Totalitarianism rallies in protest, necessitating a fitting symbol which has, evidently, brought the smiling Guy Fawkes mask back into popular usage.
(via Channel News Asia)