- It has been four months of escalating violence in Hong Kong and Filipino domestic workers are fearing for their safety and security
- Violence has escalated since the controversial ruling of banning of face coverings, as well as the 70th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the People’s Republic of China
- The Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong, along with the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment have advised Filipinos to stay vigilant
Sparked by a deeply unpopular extradition bill, demonstrations in Hong Kong have paved the way for wider demands for democratic reform. From harmless gatherings, the protests have grown increasingly violent with mass demonstrations paralyzing the city. It has been four months, and there is no end in sight.
Protests have become even more violent after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam recently imposed a controversial ban on face coverings.
Lam’s decision last Friday, October 4, to invoke colonial-era emergency powers – not used for half a century – to impose the ban sparked some of the most violent scenes since the crisis began, as hardcore protesters trashed dozens of subway stations, vandalized shops with mainland China ties, built fires, and blocked roads
In the heart of the chaos lies a population of about 400,000 foreign domestic workers in the city, with many from the Philippines and Indonesia, many of whom fear for their safety and job security.
Speaking to Channel News Asia, a domestic worker named Grace shares her story on how she and her friends and family were caught in the crossfire that had been considered as the most intense day of protest in months of demonstration in Hong Kong.
The riot consisted of hardcore activists vandalizing the train stations, tearing down banners proclaiming the 70th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and police firing tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons.
“The tear gas made it difficult for me to breathe,” said Grace, who asked to be identified only by her first name.
“The safe and very peaceful Hong Kong which I consider as my second home is very different now. When we go out on Sundays and statutory holidays you can see properties vandalised by protesters, riot police everywhere and some train stations closed. These are things that I have not seen in my entire stay here in Hong Kong,” said Grace, who has worked as a helper in Hong Kong for nine years, the last six of which were with a Hong Kong family in Prince Edward, Kowloon.
These workers typically meet and congregate in public spaces such as Central, Wan Chai and Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to relax and unwind. Unfortunately, these public spaces have also been the hotspots for the ongoing protests.
Aside from fearing for their safety when they go to public places, some have also worried about their job security. According to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, some workers are losing their jobs because their employers are leaving the city.
The Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong, along with the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment have advised Filipinos to stay vigilant and not to wear predominantly white or black clothes – colors associated with those involved in the protests. The consulate also reminded demonstrations are expected in the following areas:
- October 16 – Resumption of Legislative Council
- October 20 – The Riverpark Tai Wai to Shatin
- October 21 – Yuen Long MTR Station
- October 26 – Tamar Park Admiralty
- October 31 – Prince Edward MTR Station
According to CAN’s reports, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office told Can that it has not ruled out a ban on the deployment of overseas foreign workers to Hong Kong if the situation worsens.
“As of today, the Philippines government is not considering any deployment ban of workers here in Hong Kong. However, we shall continuously monitor the situation and may impose a ban if needed.”
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III urged overseas Filipino workers to stay indoors. In case of emergencies, the consulate said Filipinos can contact its hotline at (+852)91554023 for assistance. -CNA/Rappler
Featured image from Independent