An Eye for an Eye
Nov 10 2019
As HKers reel from Chow's death, it's worth looking at an earlier collective trauma- HKPF shooting a volunteer in the eye- to see how art immortalises & spreads HKer's righteous rage, & what we can learn from the episode.
One recurring image in HK protest art is a bloodied right eye, often bandaged up. It's to memorialise events of 11 Aug, when HKPF shot a beanbag round at a volunteer first aider's head. Photos of the aftermath speak for themselves, but HKPF denies responsibility.
One of our own may be blinded, but we HKers are not - only HKPF have projectiles like the one that hit the woman's head. Within hours, art promoting the airport sit-in for the next day turned raw, bloody, vengeful. "An eye for an eye", "Return the eye, black cops", they say.
The seething anger behind "an eye of an eye" is not just artistic hyperbole but a key to understanding the ugly fights that broke out at HKIA sit-in. When a ppl says they want vengeance bcos they can't trust institutions to grant justice, they will claw their way to revenge.
The art of blood & eyeballs did not stop coming bcos HKers were just...that...angry. Our art says what we were still too in shock & denial to dare articulate- the blinding is a monstrous, deliberate act - gun pointed directly at the pupil, hand poised to rip out eyes.
Our art also helps us to express the despair that we were all too overwhelmed & exhausted to show. The tears of blood, the splatterings of flesh - they represent HKers' collective open wounds. We are a peaceful ppl fighting for our rights, what have we done to deserve this?
The wounded eye became a symbol in the HK mvmt. We show Justice, not blind, but blinded by the regime's brute force- there's no more rule of law. Goddess of Democracy stands defiant w/ one eye. And Libby's damaged goggles pays tribute to the hurt FA's bravery & sacrifice.
The wounded eye became a symbol of the HK mvmt. Artists combined the bauhinia w/ the eye, as if to say - HK is ruptured by police brutality, there's no going back. But the blinding has also opened ppl's eyes to our new reality - we are awake now, there is no going back.
HKers understand the eye is a potent symbol of police brutality, injustice, a ppl in pain. Within 10 days of the incident, we mounted the #eye4hk campaign, w/ friends across the globe showing solidarity, uploading pics w/ right eye covered. Even Woody & Mao got involved!
That wld've been a nice place to end- a symbol spreading awareness around the world! But 29 Sep, HKPF shot a rubber bullet at Veby Indah, an Indonesian journalist, permanently blinding her right eye. HKers felt the pain w/ her as much as we did the 1st time, the 2nd, 3rd...
I've lost count how many eyes HKPF have shot at. I've stopped asking why they keep 'accidentally' hitting eyes, because, well... And as the weeks wear on, our ppl have lost teeth, limbs, ear lobe... and a life.
But we retain our dignity. And of course, our righteous rage.
So it's not surprising in aftermath of Chow's death, we adopted 'HKers, avenge!'. But just as the eye evolved from a symbol of bloody hate to one of defiance & solidarity, I hv hope we harness thirst for vengeance to seek justice for all. HKers, rise up, wise up, eyes up!