Wed­ding blues for pro­tester

The Citizen (KZN) - - World -

Hong Kong – The venue is reserved, the wed­ding rings cus­tom-made and the search for the dress has be­gun. But Hong Kong pro­tester May’s nuptials are on hold be­cause her friends op­pose her mar­ry­ing a po­lice­man.

Six months of un­prece­dented protests in Hong Kong against erod­ing free­doms un­der Chi­nese rule have di­vided the city’s pop­u­la­tion. Rifts in some cases have pit­ted rel­a­tives, friends and even lovers against each other.

May, who asked to be iden­ti­fied by a pseu­do­nym, is one of those who has seen the politics be­come deeply per­sonal, threat­en­ing to tor­pedo her Fe­bru­ary wed­ding.

“One of my clos­est friends – my maid of hon­our – told me that she’s think­ing about not at­tend­ing my wed­ding,” said May.

“It has made me re­alise how frac­tured the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the po­lice and res­i­dents has be­come.”

Since protests be­gan, po­lice have fired thou­sands of rounds of tear gas, along with rub­ber bul­lets and pep­per spray.

Po­lice have also oc­ca­sion­ally used live bul­lets, with three peo­ple shot dur­ing clashes. None of the shoot­ings re­sulted in deaths, but two of those shot suf­fered se­ri­ous in­juries.

Pro­test­ers have called for an in­de­pen­dent probe into al­leged po­lice abuses, mak­ing it a key plank in their “five de­mands”.

May has been with her fi­ancé for eight years, but says it wasn’t un­til re­cently that his ca­reer be­come a bone of con­tention.

Friends have dis­tanced them­selves and there have been tense mo­ments when jokes about pro­test­ers and po­lice have fallen flat. But she was still shocked when her best friend con­fronted her about the re­la­tion­ship af­ter the pair went wed­ding dress shop­ping.

“She said: ‘You’re not mar­ried yet, you still have the choice’,” May re­counted.

May, who has reg­u­larly at­tended ral­lies as a peace­ful pro­tester, has seen vi­o­lence first-hand.

But she doesn’t be­lieve that her fu­ture hus­band – a front­line riot of­fi­cer – would hurt any­one.

Po­lice wed­dings have also been tar­geted by pro­test­ers, with tear gas and rub­ber bul­lets be­ing fired at crowds try­ing to dis­rupt the cel­e­bra­tions.

The ten­sions in the city and the re­sponses of her friends have left May feel­ing de­spon­dent.

“It makes me feel that my wed­ding won’t be blessed, just be­cause my part­ner is a po­lice­man,” May said.

With the pres­sure build­ing, May said she de­liv­ered her fi­ancé an ultimatum sev­eral weeks ago: “Ei­ther you quit, or I leave.”

But she ad­mit­ted a ca­reer change would be dif­fi­cult for him, and she hasn’t left him yet, though the wed­ding was on hold and may yet be can­celled.

“I think our re­la­tion­ship will continue,” she said qui­etly. “We still love each other.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.