Roy Kwong Chun-you, a member of the pro-democracy group Hong Kong’s Legislative Council At the time, he spoke to police over a loudspeaker as he joined the protesters in Hong Kong On, July 1, 2019. Demonstrators The police allegedly threw barriers and dumpsters in the street to try to block the access to a celebration marking the anniversary since the handover. British colony to China.

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HONG KONG — Five Years ago, in a hot climate July The protesters are angry. Hong Kong They smashed into the local parliament and ransacked it.

It The demonstrations were a violent act that exposed the high level of frustration that the demonstrators felt towards a government who they believed was not listening to their demands, but instead was pushing the territory toward China politically. Their They felt that their freedom was at stake, and they were often violent street protests Continued for several months

The After a brutal crackdown, the protests have ended. national security legislation It is imposed on Hong Kong By: China’s Communist The rulers of the world Beijing In 2020. Thousands Several people have either been arrested or imprisoned. An opposition group that once fought for universal suffrage was decapitated. And The population is generally cowed. They are afraid to express even the slightest dissent, for fear they will be arrested.

NPR visited recently Hong KongI spoke with over a dozen individuals to better understand the changes in life. Here are the stories of three — a former student leader, a former teacher and a former local politician. Two Three of the three did not want their names or photos to be used by NPR, for fear that the government would find fault with their comments.

The first time a student becomes active

JasonOne of the colleges where she attended college was Hong Kong’s He was leading universities at the time of the protests and got involved very early.

“The first time I participated in a protest was April 2019. That protest was very peaceful,” He says.

He NPR was not allowed to use his name in full because the man was concerned that his comments would get him in serious trouble.

At Demonstrations were taking place at the time over a proposed government policy that would allow authorities to enter homes. Hong Kong Extradition of certain criminal suspects from mainland China Prosecution is the only option.

Protesters flood the streets in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019.

Protesters Flooding streets Hong Kong On, July 1, 2019.

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The One of the most effective ways to reduce your risk is by utilizing a third-party. British colony and China have different and distinct legal systems — a feature of the “one country, two systems” Models under which Hong Kong The government has been in power since Britain It was returned to China In 1997, Opponents The proposed law on extradition is feared to erode the rule of law Hong Kong’s Extradition can be used to control politics and maintain judicial independence.

The The protests intensified through the summer 2019. In mid-JuneAccording to some estimates, 2 million people marched through the middle of the city. The Demonstrators called on the government to drop the proposed law of extradition and demanded that the chief executive of the city, Carrie LamTo step down and to universal suffrage

Jason It was a whirlwind of activity. He Students are more active in organizing, speaking out and becoming involved with student leadership.

After Beijing The national security law was implemented on Hong Kong The end of the world is not at hand June 2020, Jason His classmates continued to promote democracy and railed against the government. But Soon, it became obvious that the authorities would be using the law to stifle any opposition.

A woman walks past a promotional banner of the national security law for Hong Kong, in Hong Kong, June 30, 2020. China imposed the law that allows authorities to crack down on what they deem subversive and secessionist activities in Hong Kong.

A woman walks by a banner promoting the National Security Law for Hong KongIn Hong Kong, June 30, 2020. China The authorities can now crackdown on activities they consider subversive, secessionist and violent. Hong Kong.

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“We received some death threats from, you know, some numbers. We assume that it’s from the mainland,” He says.

The The threats became worse and he dropped out of school.

“I decided to leave Hong Kong for a while and go travel, because I don’t think staying in Hong Kong at that moment would be a wise choice,” He says.

Many people left Hong Kong According to official statistics which show a population drop of more than 200,000 from mid-2019 You can also find out more about the following: mid-2022. The Last year, the population grew again partly due to migration from the Chinese mainland.

Jason Go to EuropeAfter friends and others assured him that he wouldn’t be arrested, he returned to Hong KongHe returned.

His The town felt as though it had lost all soul.

He You have tried to immigrate to Canada. but I couldn’t. He Dealing with depression.

“And [it’s] like a really cliché quote, but freedom is like air,” He says.

“You didn’t notice it when you can breathe, but you certainly notice it when you got suffocated. And that is exactly the case … right now.”

He Is a changed man; he’s more guarded, more cautious, and more careful about his words.

Later He will be starting law school this summer. And He wants to become a human-rights lawyer and work for groups that are dissatisfied, such as Hong Kong’s So he can have a positive impact on the community. But He knows that it will be much smaller than when he participated in a campaign fueled by the dream of universal suffrage.

StillHe has hope.

“I’m not sure when and how or why, but I think Hong Kong one day [will] become the place that I’ll be very comfortable living in. Not because I change, but the city changes,” He says. After All, he says, no one expected the Berlin Wall The fall.

“I cannot expect anything. I have no anticipation. But I have, you know, an unrealistic hope,” He says.

But He keeps it hidden in his heart.

She Teach high school history

On The narrow, grimy walls that lead to the hidden bookshop in the crowded Kowloon part of the city, there’s still some pro-democracy graffiti — reminders of a past that feels more distant than it is.

Inside, KimberlyThe same college that Jason, beams a bright grin. Like JasonIn light of the current political climate, she asked that her name not be included in this story.

Kimberly, 27, participated in the protests but not as a leading figure. After She took up a teaching job after graduating from history. Chinese A local high school teaches history.

She Loved working with children, but I left my job after three years.

“They were great. They’re good. So the problem is not about them, I would say,” She says

She She says that she left because she could not teach what she desired. High School history became a battleground, and the narrative changed.

“One thing is that I want to tell them more about what is happening now and what [was] happening in the past. I want to make connections between the past and the present,” She says

Official Curriculums for schools in Hong KongBy design, however, they are becoming more restrictive. It It began long before the protests and has increased. The The colonial history of the territory, as well as sensitive political events like 1989, are being minimized. Tiananmen Square The protests of Beijing.

Kimberly The teacher could discuss them with students but, due to the formal curriculum and test preparation, there was not much time.

After The protests “national security” Teachers were required to incorporate the word regularly in their lessons by the authorities.

Kimberly She says that it was easy for her to teach math and physics, but more difficult for the teachers of history. The Authorities took the issue seriously and audited.

“There’s documents, leaflets and stickers even to distribute to the students … for the National Security Day,” She refers to a day of remembrance held annually to raise national security awareness across the country. China.

Pamela Lam plays with her son on the way to school in Hong Kong, July 3, 2020. Lam's 6-year-old son fell in love with the Hong Kong protest anthem, Glory to Hong Kong, the first time he heard it and sings it often. But because of a sweeping new national security law, singing it in public is now risky. Lam agreed to be photographed only if her face was not shown, fearing possible retribution from authorities.

Pamela Lam Playing with her son as she walks to school Hong Kong, July 3, 2020. Lam’s The 6-year-old boy fell in love with the Hong Kong Protest anthem Glory You can also find out more about the following: Hong KongThe first time he sang it, he was amazed. But A new law on national security has made it dangerous to sing in public. Lam Fearing retribution, she agreed only to have her photo taken if the face of the woman was not visible.

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While It was mostly a box-checking activity. Kimberly Says, she felt like the noose was getting tighter.

“I’m not very optimistic about [getting] more freedom in the future in education,” She spoke to NPR.

SoShe has changed gears. United Kingdom I will soon get my master’s degree. She She may end up even staying abroad.

In She says that, even though she is a student of history and a former teacher, it can still be sad to pass places in her hometown where memories of protests are evoked.

“I know that many people are trying to keep the memories. Many of us are using different ways to try to remember these events,” She says

But, she adds, nobody dares to do so openly — at least not now.

He ran a funeral business

Richard ChanRecently, he suffered a heartattack, which he believes was caused by the stress of the last few year. NPR visited him in a hospital two day after the surgery.

A pacemaker, right here,” He points to his chest and smiles.

Chan ran a funeral business. But When the protests began, he became inspired and got involved. One Day In August In 2019, he was caught between front-line protesters and police officers during a standoff in the Hong Kong airport.

His The man’s attempt to mediate a dispute was captured on camera. He was given the nickname “Airport Uncle.”

Protesters stand at a barricade blocking the freeway to the Hong Kong International Airport on September 1, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Pro-democracy protesters have continued rallies on the streets of Hong Kong against a controversial extradition bill since 9 June as the city plunged into crisis after waves of demonstrations and several violent clashes. Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam apologized for introducing the bill and declared it

Protesters Stand at a barricade that blocks the freeway. Hong Kong International Airport On, Sept. 1, 2019. ProDemonstrators rallied for democracy on the streets Hong Kong Starting now, we are against the controversial bill on extradition June In that same year, 9 was the number.

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That fall, he decided to run for district council — the lowest rung of elected office in the territory. The The idea was to run for a seat where an establishment candidate would win in the absence of competition.

“I didn’t think I could win at that time,” He says. But he did.

In In 2021, however, the authorities reacted with a law that requires councilors swear an oath to loyalty to Hong Kong’s Government and its laws

“They claimed my oath wasn’t acceptable, and I was stripped of my position and couldn’t work as a district councilor,” He says. Others The same fate awaits them.

But Chan Vowed to continue serving the community on an informal basis.

“Back then, I thought, the voters’ authorized me to serve them for four years, so I used my savings to complete the term,” He says. He Even opened a butchershop to raise money to keep his office running.

Last year, he says he served out his term — and paid his debt to his supporters.

“The four year term is over, so what next for Hong Kong? What can Hong Kong do? And what can I do here in Hong Kong? It’s an issue to deal with now,” He says.

Chan wants to stay engaged — but like Jason The following are some examples of how to get started: KimberlyHe has had to reduce his ambitions. He’s Now involved with a Cat Rescue Organization in the suburb district of TaipoWhere he lives.

He He says that it allows him to get to know people better in his locality.

But He knows that any impact he has on the community will be much smaller for now.

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