Hong Kong's Occupy Central movement was started by three middle-aged men, and its public face has largely been represented by very young men. But tucked in among the tent city that is the Occupy Central site on Harcourt Road, near government headquarters in the Admiralty district, is a stall run by parents of protesting students and high-schoolers: and mothers in particular. Two mothers and a daughter spoke to RFA about their involvement in the movement, which seeks public nomination of candidates in 2017 elections for Hong Kong's chief executive:
Sylvia: Before this, I was a housewife who had no understanding of politics. But since Sept. 28, when police used tear-gas, and my daughter was injured at a meeting, I started coming here to help the students. I gradually got to know other parents, and we shared our views on the movement. Then we set up "Mums and Dads Under the Umbrella." We wanted to give parents a platform for sharing resources and for helping take care of the students.
One thought I had was that this whole movement has lacked the voices of mothers. I think parents are needed too. I got to know seven other people here and we set up shop.
Carol: I came here to Umbrella Square with my nine-year-old daughter. She's still very young, and she doesn't really understand what's going on. Every time they show footage on television of clashes and other news, she would ask me what it was. Parents are among the most important teachers of a child. But I don't want to just transmit my own opinions to her. I hope she'll come to understand by being here, and then she can decide for herself what's right and what's wrong.
It's important as a parent to explain to kids that they don't have be pro or anti-Occupy. They can make an independent analysis of a lot of things for themselves. You can't tell them that all police officers are evil, or that everyone who supports universal suffrage is evil, either. I don't want to brainwash her. I think a parent should be more like a facilitator, and just provide her with all the information.
Winnie: I was there when the police were firing tear-gas. Afterwards, my parents tried to stop me from coming back to the Occupy sites. They used various means to do this, and we got into big arguments because we had different views.
I understand why my parents are worried. That's why I always try to avoid talking about this topic when I'm at home. I am hoping that, through "Mums and Dads Under the Umbrella," they will gradually come to understand what I believe in.
My relationship with my folks has deteriorated a lot over this. I think this is a great organization, because it represents the views of parents in the movement. It's not all about listening to what the students think. Yes, they are very influential. But I hope that my parents, when they get to know about this, will end up supporting my actions.
Reported by Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated by Luisetta Mudie.