Agnes Chow: Hong Kong’s ‘actual Mulan’ combating for democracy

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Agnes Chow is remanded in custody with Joshua Wong after pleading responsible to unauthorised meetingHong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow has been hailed as a hero by her supporters. But she is in custody awaiting sentencing on Wednesday on expenses of unauthorised meeting and faces being jailed. Earlier she spoke to Lam Cho Wai from BBC Chinese concerning the stress she feels underneath.”I thought I wasn’t stressed – but my body is telling me otherwise,” Ms Chow says.”Many people say they want to lose weight – but I don’t. I try to live and eat normally – yet I cannot gain any weight.”She was amongst a handful of activists and media figures arrested in August underneath the controversial new safety legislation imposed by Beijing.The legislation criminalises any act of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with international forces. Beijing says it’s wanted to revive and keep social stability after months of violent avenue protests. But critics say it’s open to abuse and successfully silences dissent.Chow was arrested at her home underneath the controversial nationwide safety legislation, on the night time of 10 AugustShe was detained on suspicion of “colluding with foreign forces” however launched on bail. If convicted, she may face a sentence of as much as life in jail.However, Ms Chow has not been charged but. For now, she is in custody awaiting sentencing this week on separate expenses of unauthorised meeting associated to final yr’s protests, to which she has pleaded responsible.And though she isn’t any stranger to being arrested, she says issues have change into way more ominous in latest occasions.She describes how her home was surrounded for a complete day by plainclothes police in August, earlier than they banged on her door many hours later. An infrared digicam had additionally been put in on a close-by hill.”They raided my home for two hours. My mother was there. I was so scared and asked myself, ‘Is this the last time I will see my home?'”Now, Ms Chow says she usually has nightmares about being arrested. “I have developed a phobia of doorbells and knocking.”‘Goddess of democracy’Ms Chow is simply 24 however ranks as a veteran pro-democracy activist.Story continuesAs an adolescent, she campaigned, alongside fellow activist Joshua Wong, in opposition to deliberate adjustments to the nationwide curriculum they thought of “nationalist brainwashing”, which the federal government later dropped.She went on to change into a distinguished determine within the 2014 Umbrella motion, which noticed protesters occupy components of the town for 79 days, demanding common suffrage. Two years later, she co-founded pro-democracy foyer group Demosisto, with Mr Wong and former lawmaker Nathan Law.The group, disbanded the day the nationwide safety legislation was launched, repeatedly referred to as for sanctions in opposition to China and Hong Kong officers.Agnew Chow carefully works with Joshua WongNow Ms Chow’s supporters have dubbed her “the real Mulan”, in reference to the legendary Chinese heroine who fought to avoid wasting her household and nation. Others have referred to as her the “goddess of democracy”.”I don’t think I deserve the title,” she says. “But it’s not a bad thing if it helps draw attention to the Hong Kong situation.”I hope my fame encourages individuals to carry on to their religion.”Ms Chow is also proud that her front-line position in the movement has broken down gender stereotypes. “In the previous different protesters would inform women to remain again as they won’t have the ability take care of harmful clashes,” she says.”But have a look at what occurred – feminine protesters took up key roles. They have demonstrated nice bravery.”Ms Chow, who speaks fluent Japanese and loves anime, has amassed a following in Japan, with many taking to social media to call for her release.Last year, she flew to Tokyo to ask Shinzo Abe’s government to speak out in favour of the pro-democracy protests. But in the wake of the national security law, she says all lobbying has stopped.”I can not say what I may say up to now,” she says.She says “white terror” – a term referring to the silencing of dissidents – “is hanging over the top of each Hong Konger, together with me”.And with the national security law, “you may say that the federal government has achieved the impact of shock and awe”.But she adds: “It does not imply persons are living a greater life. They are simply overwhelmed by fear.”‘The ultimate sacrifice’For much of last year, the pro-democracy protesters were engaging in increasingly violent clashes with riot police, who were accused of using excessive force. Pro-Beijing groups also accuse the protesters of attacking security forces and disturbing public order.After the law was introduced, the protests – already affected by the pandemic – ground to a halt.Asked if the protesters themselves gambled away the city’s freedoms by pushing too hard last year, Ms Chow replies: “It may be very troublesome to make a conclusion on the motion.”It was definitely not a victory because our demands have not been met.”But even with out final yr’s protests, the political crackdown would have continued and freedoms loved by Hong Kongers would have ultimately disappeared, she says.Many protesters, together with Nathan Law, have fled to the UK. But Ms Chow has no plans to go away.”I understand why many want to go,” she says.”Hong Kong has become an increasingly hopeless place. Hong Kongers yearn for democracy, freedom… and these still seem very distant.”But, she provides: “Many social movements face huge obstacles. Many people make sacrifices.”We should not let despair and fear dominate our thoughts. We need to persist to struggle for democracy.”But “the best way to overcome fear?” she asks.”If anybody is aware of a manner, please train me.”Agnes Chow options on this yr’s BBC 100 Women checklist. BBC 100 Women names 100 influential and inspirational ladies world wide yearly and tells their tales. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook and be a part of the dialog, utilizing#BBC100Women.