Tensions, resentment and dissent in society have risen in recent years. In 2013, around 120,000 people gathered in Civic Square, outside the Central Government Office (CGO) to oppose the government’s decision to reject HKTV’s application for a licence to operate free terrestrial television services.
After other protesters had left Civic Square, Kraft chose to stay and camp out there with some of the HKTV staff who had stayed behind to continue their protest. After two weeks he told the HKTV protesters he would continue to stay because it was hard to get a spot in that location and it was important to express opinions.
“And then it was just me and the tent.” Kraft says.
After that, he stayed in Civic Square for nine months. During that period, Kraft witnessed many stories that were never captured on camera. He recalls a woman who protested frequently at the CGO with a big banner. The first time that he saw her protesting, he saw security guards grabbing her and taking her to the interrogation room. After she left the room, Kraft talked to her and explained that she had the right to protest. He says that after speaking to her, the woman realised there was nothing the guards could do to remove her.
Kraft says that before the fence went up, there were around five to ten protests a day outside the CGO, most of which were never covered in the news because they were too small-scale. It was with this in mind that he began to take videos and photos and posted them on social media, which in turn helped these protests grow.
The police and security guards did try to get Kraft to leave Civic Square, but to no avail. “I knew that it was a public area…I have the right to protest under the Basic Law,” says Kraft. Growing up in a liberal nation, Kraft thinks freedom and individual rights are imperative and correct. “My conscience said it’s correct. Freedom of speech, freedom of writing, is correct. What I did was spoke the truth, nothing more than that, nothing improper,” he says.
But Kraft’s days inside Civic Square were numbered. On July 18 this year, when he was not at the site, the government put up a three-metre high perimeter fence. When he returned to Civic Square the next day, his tent and his belongings were removed.
Now, members of the public are no longer permitted to enter Civic Square on weekdays. Kraft believes this is unlawful. “The CGO is saying we have to protest between Saturday midnight and Sunday 6pm. What kind of law is that? There is no law like that,” says a furious Kraft. So, with the help of legislator Albert Ho Chun-yan,