The bloody riots in Hong Kong started from 1960 known as Star ferry riots against British colonial rule. One person died, and a dozen were injured and over 1,800 were arrested. Then in 1967, another riot broke against British colonial rule, The leftist riot. Mass blood shed occurred but still leftists failed to take over Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has a long history of violent protests and unrest, with each event separated by periods of relative calm and peace. This situation has continued ever since British colonial rule ended in the region almost 150 years ago. However, even while living in a land faced with continual external interference, there is much to be said for the people of Hong Kong who are bravely struggling against oppression and keeping the hope of a sovereign and autonomous Hong Kong alive.
Present Situation in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is currently facing a major political crisis from past few month. The demonstrations have rapidly evolved with millions marching through the streets protesting against extradition laws that were enforced on the region. The protesters are out on streets to get their demands accepted by the government.
These protests started as massive peaceful marches but since August, violent use of force from authorities, riots, and, arrests can be seen on daily basis. Violent clashes between the Police and pro-democracy public are getting worse by the day. Police is using all engagement tactics to get the protesters scattered. Many injuries, deaths, and arrests have been reported by the Daily News, BBC, CNN, Bloomberg, and other news channels.
But the protesters remain stubborn on their demands which include the withdrawal of the extradition bill and investigation of police brutality incidents. The protests generally target Chinese Government buildings and Hong Kong Central Government offices, and after persistent struggle, the government has officially withdrawn the bill.
Nonetheless, the government remains adamant against other demands of the protesters.
As a result of the protests, many nations have issued travel warnings for Hong Kong. Demonstrations in reaction to the protests have taken place internationally, including Berlin, Canberra, Frankfurt, London, New York City, San Francisco, Sydney, Taipei, Tokyo, Toronto and Vancouver.
The Chinese government has expressed their opposition to the protests, while taking measures against the protests and their supporters. The protests have been described by Chinese government and media as separatism riots facilitated by foreign forces.
Internet Restrictions Amidst Protests in Hong Kong
Internet is a part of daily life no matter where you are in the world. But shutting down the Internet over Hong Kong is a big question mark on the government. The control and suppression of press, social media, and free speech on the internet is a direct violation of human rights.
Social media, which has played a crucial role in mobilizing protests across the region, is under constant threat of suppression by the authorities and many websites have been blocked. This includes major news outlets as well as messaging apps and streaming services.
These restrictions are harming international businesses which increasingly rely on communications via the internet to conduct their day-to-day operations.
Internet censorship is also affecting journalists and bloggers that are critical of the authorities in the whole debacle. It’s hard to expect anything positive to come out of the mass blocking of social media in the region.
Workaround to Internet Shutdown
Hong Kong is likely more resilient than many places to a complete internet shutdown. During the 2014 Umbrella Movement, fears that the government would shut down mobile Internet led many people to download FireChat, a messaging app which uses wireless mesh networking to communicate over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi without internet access.
With apps like these, each user becomes a node in the network, passing on messages via their smartphone’s wireless networks to the intended recipient. For three months now, protesters in Hong Kong have shown themselves extremely adept at organizing protests via social media, spreading news about future demonstrations, and police movements.
Communications via the internet regarding how to stay safe when moving around cities, calls for reinforcements and supplies via social media are facilitating protesters in planning their protests ahead of time.
Amidst all this chaos, people in Hong Kong are increasingly moving towards VPNs and proxy servers to pass through internet censorship.
VPNs are an effective solution to censorship, since the secure and private tunnels offer strong encryption and privacy from state agencies. VPNs also give you a lot of benefits for web privacy such as IP leak prevention, DNS leak prevention. Protesters find these tools of immense importance in the current landscape where cases of police brutality against people found to be critical of authorities on the Internet are still continuing to turn up.
As such, VPN services ensure that, in spite of the restrictions on the internet, people in Hong Kong still have a means to access social media and organize continued protests against the government and fight for the preservation of democracy.
It is unfortunate that in this century, where the worlds has become a global village and internet plays a vital part in a person’s life, such harsh measures are being taken against it. There’s no such thing as being “too secure” on the Internet as the existing situation of censorship and state oppression in Hong Kong shows. People in Hong Kong are desperate to deploy any tool they can get that has the power to increase their security on the web, and by extension, in the real life too.
It is highly recommended to use a VPN whenever you are performing online activities, which will protect your location from being tracked by agencies and improve your overall security on the web. It keeps you personal information and communications secure from the eye of unwanted outsiders by changing your IP address and thus hiding your identity.
In a world afflicted with such political chaos, every bit of technology with the power to preserve privacy and support freedom of speech can mean the difference between totalitarianism and democratic rule.