In late May, a week after Chinese officials announced a plan to impose a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, the Guardian issued a callout to people who believed they would be affected. We wanted to hear how people felt about the law, how it might change their lives, and how they felt about the last year of protests.
The response was overwhelming. Within days we had received more than 30,000 messages from people inside and outside Hong Kong – the most for any Guardian community callout.
After the law came into force this week, the contributions continued to pour in. People have expressed fury, frustration and a sense of hopelessness; they oppose the law but have no recourse to stop it. Many asked the international community for help. Others mourned the end of a city they loved and lashed out at China’s Communist party. Some said they welcomed the law, hoping for an end to the months of protests that at times turned violent.
Here are a few of the messages we received:
‘My home no longer exists’
“Feeling heartbroken seeing the latest developments. It is like waking up in the morning and being told that my home no longer exists. Freedom of speech, rule of law and social justice are the values that Hong Kong represents. If Hong Kong loses these values, Hong Kong will no longer be Hong Kong, and I will no longer be myself” – Sandra, curator in London, originally from Hong Kong
“I am frustrated, furious and feel powerless. I have seen this place – with values of justice, openness, diversity, rule of law, freedom of expression – turned into a police state. Many people are disappointed and considering leaving. What worries me most is our young people. Most of them do not have the ability to emigrate. They are too brave. They should not be the ones to sacrifice for this unjust situation” – Louis, 55, in Yuen Long, Hong Kong
“I am extremely worried about the future of my homeland. I don’t want Hong Kong to gradually become another Xinjiang. I am scared that writing this could be considered collusion with foreign countries and I will be arrested. If the example of Hong Kong teaches the world anything, it is the necessity of vigilance in preserving the institutions of liberty and democracy with concrete actions. Don’t wait until it is too late” – Cheung, 22, Hong Kong university student
“I feel terrified that this law will turn Hong Kong into China. In China, any sort of protest can be regarded as ‘endangering national security’. On the one hand we feel lost; the old Hong Kong is dead. On the other hand, we feel glad that we finally forced the CCP [Chinese Communist party] to unveil its true evil side” – Fung, 25, primary school teacher in Hong Kong
‘Riots are the sound of the unheard’
“I feel pretty helpless and hopeless. The protesters are afraid they will be caught by the police, or get caught and sent to China. We don’t know what will happen if we are sent to China” – Leanne, 13, student
“One country, two systems has totally vanished. Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, is not listening to the demands of the local population but listening to instructions from Beijing. The situation is destroying the freedom, law and order of Hong Kong. The protests a year ago were disciplined and peaceful, but the government is not listening. So people became violent to express their concerns. Riots are the sound of the unheard” – Wong, Hong Kong’s New Territories
“The national security law for Hong Kong sets a very bad precedent: the mainland Chinese legislature legislating for Hong Kong. The autonomy of Hong Kong will be eroded and freedom of expression will be restricted. People can no longer express views that are not in line with the Chinese government” – anonymous 59, retiree in Hong Kong
“We are facing the end of our treasured, free and open society. As an elderly person, my only contribution to this movement is to give support as much as possible – attending peaceful rallies and marches, whether legal or not” – Samson Cheng, 68, retiree in Hong Kong
Heartbroken, watching from afar
“So much has died in the last 23 years. Bit by bit, the mainland government has infiltrated Hong Kong, wanting to control it. Watching from afar, it is even more heartbreaking. My nephews will now be brainwashed. They may not even have the right to keep quiet; they will be forced to say things they may not believe in” – Linda Chan, 63, retired Hongkonger in London
“One thing that worries me is my own future after I finish my studies in the UK. Should I return to Hong Kong? Will I come under their secret surveillance? Will I face retaliation or arrest just because of my political stance? I will have to come to terms with the possibility of never returning to my homeland and being separated from my family for the rest of my life” – 26-year-old PhD student in the UK, from Hong Kong, holder of a British national (overseas) passport
Threatened by violent protests
“It’s completely nonsense to argue that Hong Kong people have no freedom. What place on earth would allow riots and violent protests to carry on for more than six months? The series of outrageous violent protests are unequivocal evidence of the almost unlimited freedom of speech enjoyed by Hong Kong people. My freedom has never been diminished by the laws and regulations in Hong Kong. The only time that I felt threatened was during the violent protests” – D, 38, lawyer in Hong Kong
“I welcome the proposed implementation of the national security law. I truly believe that is the only and effective way to end the mess that we have suffered and been facing since last June” – Catherine, 56, translator, Hong Kong’s New Territories
‘Please stand with Hong Kong’
Many of us support the protests and feel angry about what the CCP, the Hong Kong government and the police have done. But we are also pressured by our bosses whose businesses rely on the mainland. We are helpless and frustrated. Some of us are trying to escape to foreign countries but some have got no choice. We do need help from the world. Please” – Chan, 27, surveyor, Hong Kong
“Although there is nothing we can do, I will continue to speak the truth. Even though I am scared to death of the law, I can still tweet, sign petitions, donate money. At least I know how to ‘be water’. We are grateful for the sacrifice of the young people and we should not give in. We hope the free world will help us. We will do whatever we can to fight for our freedom. Please continue to stand with Hong Kong” – Cecilia, 53, mother of two, Hong Kong
“I wish the UK government could take action to protect Hong Kong and Hongkongers. It is indeed the UK’s responsibility. Why do we have to suffer from their wrong decision? We have shown our passion, our dignity. We built Hong Kong. We contributed our time, our life to the city. Didn’t we do enough? Didn’t our peace move you? Please help us. Help Hong Kong” – Mo, 41, fashion designer, Hong Kong