What can Americans learn?
The protests over changes to Hong Kong’s extradition laws have been ever present in the news over the last few weeks. The people of Hong Kong flooded into the streets to demand the controversial of proposed changes to sentencing laws which would see those people in Hong Kong get sent to mainland China to stand trial be scrapped. This was always going to be controversial due to the separate governing system which Hong Kong has maintained since it ceased to be ruled by the UK in 1997.
The protests themselves, after many clashes with police and government officials, have ultimately succeeded in their attempts to prevent these changes to the law. On Tuesday, the leader of Hong Kong Carrie Lam stated in a press conference that the extradition bill was ‘dead’ essentially meaning that it will be dropped and will not be brought into the limelight in the near future.
The people of the administrative region of Hong Kong have shown how that their is power in the masses. They have banded together to show their hatred at a bill which effectively was going to take a part of the states laws back in time. This kind of protesting over laws is exactly what not enough Americans are doing right now.
The increasing issues on the border with Mexico has seen a steep rise in detainees being treated by ICE and other border officers. There is a clear tone that lots of Americans are against the laws enabling the poor treatment to take place, but they are doing little about it.
A huge, organised protest against the administration on how they are dealing with those wanting to enter America is needed if people want to show they truly care. The retweeting and sharing pictures is worthless without coordinated action against the government carrying out the brutal detaining of actual humans.
On some level it is a blind ignorance. It is this idea that if it can’t be seen it isn’t happening. Well that is no longer an excuse. Technology and social media has made it so this kind of crisis can’t remain under the radar. Just because you cannot see people being oppressed doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, this kind of attitude is dangerous at the best of tunes.
Yet the lack of genuine protest following on from any pictures bring shared, such as the harrowing image of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his daughter Valeria lying face down dead in a river, means that the scene is doomed to be repeated.
The pair attempted to cross the river where they because of how hard it has become to gain asylum in America. There is no longer a sense of if you go there you will be safe, rather it is the reality of being separated from your family and treated worse than criminals. These people are not criminals, they are victims of a cruel system which wants to crush their will. Seeking asylum for the betterment of you and your family shouldn’t be a matter of life and death. Especially in the home of the free.
For the critics ego feel that imagery does nothing to change the will of the people. There is one example in America which cannot be overlooked. It is a picture which became synonymous with the Vietnam War and more specifically America’s involvement. It shows naked, burning children running away from a village which had been bombed by American planes.
Could the image of the dead father and his daughter be the modern day version of this picture? To do so, it would need to spark a significant protest movement. The image of the Vietnam War gave Americans an insight into what their country was doing in south east Asia. It changed the way many viewed the war and it turned lots more people against the war and into the anti-war movement.
It inspired people to stand up and say the war needs to stop. They could see that their soldiers weren’t ‘the good guys’ because they were slaughtering innocent people. The impact of the image made people want their government to pull out of Vietnam.
Those Americans who are genuine about wanting a change to the border detainment and asylum policies need to take action. The most effective way to start this is to take inspiration from the horrendous images of the Vietnam War, the father and daughter lay drowned and the Hong Kong protests and anti war protests in America of the 1960/70s.
The parallels are there between the scenarios, both have an American government seemingly hell-bent on destruction with little regard for the cost of human life.
The situation with asylum seekers will only deteriorate if the people continue to fail to make a stand to their government. If they want things to change, organised protest in numbers is a vital first step.