Hong Kong protests – Why the umbrellas and yellow ribbons?

The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong began in September 2014, thousands of protesters took to the streets outside the HK government headquarters and set up makeshift tents in the outdoors. The Hong Kong protests are also popularly known as the Umbrella Movement or the Umbrella Revolution.

hong kong protestors signs

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Every revolution has its share of symbols that are deeply embroiled in meaning, the Hong Kong protests have dragged on for more than two months and tensions seem to be mounting even further. However, amidst all this chaos and confusion it is essential to take a step back and give a thought to all that lies beyond the obvious. 

Why are blue ribbons, yellow ribbons and most importantly umbrellas so central to the 2014 Hong Kong protests.

1. Umbrellas –  

The Umbrella revolution as it is popularly known was an accidental phenomenon. Protesters who gathered on the street initially used umbrellas to shield themselves against the sun and rain. However, post the clashes between protesters and the police, the umbrellas became a sort of protection against atrocities such as tear gas and pepper spray.

2. Yellow Ribbons – 

Throngs of people  have taken to tying yellow ribbons around trees, railings and any such other public spaces. Throughout history, scores of suffrage organisations have taken up yellow as their official colour, the women’s suffrage movement which shook the United States during the 1860s had also adopted yellow as its representative color. 

3. Blue Ribbons – 

The blue ribbons are antithetical to the use of yellow ribbons, after months of protests and discontent many have grown weary of all the chaos. Hence, many in Hong Kong have given into sporting blue ribbons as an indicator of peace. Blue as colour has always stood for peace and calm, and incidentally it is also the colour of the local police’s uniform in Hong Kong.


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