Extremist youth forced the government: Hong Kong

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Extremist youth forced the government: Hong Kong.

Extremist youth forced the government: Hong Kong.

In just one week Hong Kong has witnessed two of its largest ever protests, as well its most violent protest in decades. At the forefront of these demonstrations are young people, many barely out of their teens. How did they get radicalised – and how did they manage to force the government’s hand?

“We screamed at people to run.”

“My parents kicked me out after the protests.”

“It was the first time I got tear-gassed – tears were coming uncontrollably out of my eyes.”

“I’m afraid to give my real name.”

These are not words anybody would have expected to come out of the mouths of Hong Kongers – and certainly not ones aged between 17 and 21.

Until recently the stereotype of a “typical” Hong Kong teen would have been one more interested in studying or making money than political activism or creative thinking.

But last week saw the streets around Hong Kong’s legislature taken over by young people wearing masks, setting up barricades, and throwing gas canisters back at police.

Many of them were even too young to have taken part in the last Hong Kong protest to hold the world’s media rapt – the 2014 Umbrella protests, when tens of thousands of people slept in the streets for weeks, demanding democratic elections.

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