For many of the young people who participated in the Occupy Movement, it was not just a political movement, but an experience and process in which their values were articulated and tested in unpredictable circumstances. After the movement ended without any concessions from the government, their sense of powerless and distress is palpable.
The Hong Kong Institute of Education entrusted The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Communication and Public Opinion Survey to conduct research in February to find out the mental state of Hongkongers after the movement. Among the 1,200 interviewees, nearly half were still anxious though nearly two months had passed. The findings showed youngsters between 18 and 24 years old were the most emotionally affected. Nearly 60 per cent of interviewees from that age group were analysed as having medium to severe anxiety, and around 20 per cent were medium to severely depressed.
Yet in the face of anxiety and the sense of powerlessness, Hong Kong’s young people are trying to move on. One afternoon in late September, Varsity accompanied Jasmine Choi Yan-yan, who was denied access to the Mainland after her arrest in Civic Square, to the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line Control Point. She had heard that a friend of hers who had had the same experience successfully crossed the border a year after the occupation. Choi wanted to see if the same would be true in her case.
Eventually, it was her turn to be examined after waiting in a long queue. There were many travellers laden with bags or dragging pieces of luggage. Choi was the only one who stood there with just her Home Return Card in her hand. She waited for the official to take her card, their eyes met, and after a short pause, she walked past the checkpoint and eventually arrived in mainland China.
Her first reaction was relief. She would be able to go to the Mainland to visit her relatives, perhaps to work. But on reflection, she realised how easy it would be for the authorities to revoke her access again.
She was still powerless.
Edited by Stella Tsang