Witnessing how Israeli airstrikes devastated Gaza strip, what deeply touched Au was how the local doctors and nurses persisted in safeguarding their homeland. “They don’t want wars. They just want to live with dignity,” he says.
He found similar sentiments a few months later among the young people who participated in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement to fight for a better Hong Kong.
While some doctors signed a petition to condemn the movement as a “cancer” damaging Hong Kong, Au used his expertise to support the 79-day movement as the volunteer leader of the Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP) medical team.
The Occupy Movement was not the first political campaign Au has joined. He has long been concerned about Hong Kong’s political development and has participated in different social campaigns.
Au also headed the team of medical personnel supporting the hunger strikers during the anti-national education campaign in 2012. Back in 2000, he joined the Hong Kong Democratic Development Network (HKDDN). This is where he met the Rev Chu Yiu-ming, one of the co-founders of Occupy Central, who later invited him to head the OCLP medical team.
When Beijing announced the “8.31” framework for the 2017 Chief Executive election, Au was still in Gaza. Fortunately, before going to Gaza, Au had already contacted people who had been medical volunteers in the anti-national movement, and organised meetings and preparations. Therefore, the medical team was able to operate smoothly even though the movement kicked off unexpectedly and earlier than the planned sit-in to paralyse Hong Kong’s financial district.
At the beginning of the movement, Au had full confidence that Hong Kong could finally reach a mutually acceptable agreement on democratic development. But his hope was gradually replaced with disappointment and anger when he witnessed police brutality and what he describes as the cold response of the Hong Kong government.