Last Wednesday, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong took to the streets to voice their discontent over the Chinese government's efforts to erode the region's freedoms.
The protests began peacefully, but by Friday, the police began a brutal crackdown, attacking people with tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray.
The Chinese government is often quite totalitarian, and they have made efforts to block people from using social media. Instagram has been completely blocked as of Monday. Obviously, they don't want the world to see Chinese police attacking peaceful protestors.
Correspondingly, Hong Kong enjoys more Internet freedoms than mainland China. Still, the Chinese government has made efforts to limit coverage of the protests.
This really only impacts what people in mainland China are able to see, but social media has offered the rest of the world a very intimate view of what's happening on the ground.
Many Twitter users have been following the situation closely, providing the world with an important view of Hong Kong's movement for democracy and freedom:
Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997, when the UK handed it over to China. This is why Hong Kong has always been very different from the rest of China, and more democratic.
For those not understanding #HongKong protests: Basically #UK had it until 1997, so it had some form of democracy.... /1 — ghazi (@abuaminah_) September 29, 2014
The British Empire did not officially end until 1997 with hand over of Hong Kong to China. — BlueCollarDoctorWho (@BlueCollarDrWho) September 28, 2014
6. Before and after the handover, Hong Kong was/is important because it is part of China but also stands apart. — Patrick Chovanec (@prchovanec) September 29, 2014
When Hong Kong became part of China, the Chinese government made certain promises. It told Hong Kong it would allow it to remain autonomous.
China,which took control of the former British colony in 1997,has promised that Hong Kong’s leader can be chosen through universal suffrage — محمد عكاشة زكريا (@akashahzakaria) September 29, 2014
China is just encroaching its influence towards Hong Kong when they did promised them total democracy during 1997. #malaysiasupporthk — Kenneth Cheng (@KennKC) September 29, 2014
This isn't the Hong Kong that the world was promised when HK returned to China in 1997. Shame on the HK government & police #HKDemocracy — B (@eyetotelescope) September 28, 2014
Part of the deal was that Beijing would choose Hong Kong's leader, known as the Chief Executive, until 2017. After that, Hong Kong would democratically choose its own leader.
"Hong Kong is theoretically supposed to be moving toward full democracy, with the city’s chief executive to be elected...in 2017." — kay bell (@kaylbelle) September 29, 2014
Let's be very clear about what ignited Hong Kong unrest - China, with decision to renege on promise of real democratic elections in 2017. — Keith Richburg (@keithrichburg) September 28, 2014
Beijing recently changed its original promises, stating that it would allow Hong Kong to hold elections in 2017, but that the candidates would be chosen by the government... That doesn't sound very democratic.
Hong Kong protest primarily because upcoming 2017 elections they will be able to vote for candidates but will not be allowed to chose them. — Noah (@thecoolnoodle) September 29, 2014
So China wants to pick the candidates Hong Kong will vote for in 2017 — mathi (@mathidube) September 29, 2014
Many people in Hong Kong are unhappy with China's decision. They want fully democratic elections. This is what spurred the protests.
China: "Hong Kong, we'll allow you to have democratic elections in 2017, but we'll choose who stands for elections" People of HK: "Fuck you" — Avishkar Panday (@AvishkarPanday) September 29, 2014
The protests began with students occupying downtown Hong Kong, an area known as Central. The movement has been dubbed #OccupyCentral. Indeed, young Chinese people seem to desire more democracy than previous generations. Chinese Millennials are leading this movement.
#HongKong university students begin strike action in protest to #UniversalSuffrage in the 2017 elections. @cnni @CNN pic.twitter.com/GnHACyFLg3 — Paul Devitt (@cameramanCNN) September 22, 2014
Hong Kong younger generation less tolerant than parents of #China limits on their democrcacy. http://t.co/yLM1QBXIGt pic.twitter.com/NHEFjJLkGi — Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) September 9, 2014
Protesters take out phones to record police as police take out cameras to film faces. #HKStudentStrike #OccupyCentral pic.twitter.com/pmKO0OKgPZ — Tesa Arcilla (@TesaArcilla) September 27, 2014
Students protesting right now in Hong Kong. #OccupyCentral#UmbrellaRevolutionpic.twitter.com/ZeWN41l2eE — Juan Yves Palomar (@JuanYvesPalomar) September 29, 2014
The police have utilized brutal tactics in efforts to disperse the protestors. The most intense clashes occurred over the weekend.
Pro-Democracy protesters are met with tear gas and rubber bulets by the police #hongkong #occupycentral pic.twitter.com/52C4CiCoGF — Fernando Oliveira (@fffernando) September 29, 2014
Heavily armed police with assault rifles stationed in Central #OccupyCentral#HK Photo credit: Passion Times pic.twitter.com/Xnf50Uktph — Ernest Kao (@ErnestKao) September 28, 2014
Many of the images have been reminiscent of recent scenes from Ferguson, Missouri.
Hot Hashtag: #HandsUpDontShoot HK #OccupyCentral protesters msg to police inspired by Ferguson. Photo via @leungfaye pic.twitter.com/pOAbN52DrH — Femi Oke (@FemiOke) September 29, 2014
Police States of the World, beware: the people of the Internets are coming at you! #Ferguson#OccupyCentral#HongKongpic.twitter.com/GmSVio6WzY — Crypto Mars (@cryptomars) September 29, 2014
To protect themselves from tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray, protestors have been carrying umbrellas. Thus, in addition to #OccupyCentral, this movement has become known as the #UmbrellaRevolution.
These images from Hong Kong today can't be what Beijing envisioned. RT @BBCCarrie: Umbrella man. RT pic.twitter.com/ABJ45iFbbs — Philip P. Pan (@panphil) September 28, 2014
Roman testudo formation, 2014-style: Hong Kong protesters using umbrellas to block pepper spray. pic.twitter.com/QgZHtvCr0i — Dan Amira (@DanAmira) September 28, 2014
Love this great image from the #UmbrellaRevolution unfolding in Hong Kong by Alex Ogle of Agence France-Presse. pic.twitter.com/NcljlLMzY7 — Adam Costanzo (@adam_costanzo) September 29, 2014
My favorite photo from Hong Kong protests. Bring on the #umbrellarevolution or whatever you wanna call it. #OccupyHKpic.twitter.com/7zvh2ulpd3 — Sneha Roy (@sneroy) September 29, 2014
Thousands of people have taken to the streets. They want free and fair elections. They want the police to stop attacking people.
Demonstrators hold up cellphones in a display of solidarity during a protest in Hong Kong #Photo by Xaume Olleros pic.twitter.com/EmFASrwkRM — Agence France-Presse (@AFP) September 29, 2014
BREAKING: HONG KONG MONETARY AUTHORITY SAYS WILL INJECT LIQUIDITY INTO THE SYSTEM “AS AND WHEN NECESSARY” pic.twitter.com/hT2RCaMi1k — Rudolf E. Havenstein (@RudyHavenstein) September 29, 2014
Incredible Photos from Hong Kong #OccupyCentral protests #UmbrellaRevolution pic.twitter.com/R8rlERfqJq — Jerry (@0xJerry) September 29, 2014
This Hong Kong situation has only just begun to get real. — Jacqui Cheng (@ejacqui) September 29, 2014
If you care about democracy, then you should care about what's happening in Hong Kong: http://t.co/z7hAAUew84 pic.twitter.com/EBdZf4vXH2 — Independent Voices (@IndyVoices) September 29, 2014
Some fear that this could turn into a repeat of Tiananmen Square in 1989, when China killed thousands of pro-democracy protestors.
Albeit indirectly, the #HongKongProtests can be called a second wake up call to the Chinese leadership after the Tiananmen protests of 1989 — Pawan Khera (@Pawankhera) September 29, 2014
Defining image of #HongKong democracy protests (like Tiananmen Tank Man) -- "Umbrella Man" in a cloud of tear gas pic.twitter.com/bRWdvT0Ju2 — Anuj Chopra (@AnujChopra) September 29, 2014
The protestors have set a great example for the world.
Responsible student protestors cleaning up after themselves #recycling #HKStudentStrike pic.twitter.com/jZ40k3YfQ7 — Sarah Clarke (@sarahclarkeabc) September 29, 2014
Protestors doing what police couldn't - cleaning up the streets of #HongKong. “@iammissvicx: #OccupyCentral pic.twitter.com/N97WZ9IAS7” — Mary Lloyd (@MaryLloyd4) September 29, 2014
This is far from over.
Plenty of these still blocking streets near protest sites in Hong Kong tonight. http://t.co/CyjsoYNYy8 — Matthew Bell (@matthewjbell) September 29, 2014
Protesters as far as you can see are swarming Hong Kong demanding democracy. Now cops are cracking down. pic.twitter.com/y62dFRxfI5 — Shepard Smith (@ShepNewsTeam) September 29, 2014
Hong Kong protests showing no signs of slowing. pic.twitter.com/1tg9dyPQWq — ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) September 30, 2014
Top Photo Courtesy: Jeff Cheng