Grandma Wong Waves a Union Jack as “a Symbol of the Rights Protected by the British Government”

(p. A11) HONG KONG — When protests swept Hong Kong last year, Alexandra Wong, better known as “Grandma Wong,” always seemed to be there. Day after day, she stood out among the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators as a small woman with short gray hair waving a large British flag.

Then, during a few tumultuous days in August [2020] when the police fired tear gas in a subway station and protesters shut down the city’s airport, Ms. Wong, 64, suddenly vanished.

. . .

Ms. Wong said she had been detained while crossing the border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen on Aug. 14, and spent 15 days in administrative detention without being told of her crimes. Investigators grilled her about the protests, the British flag and whether she used violence, she said. They showed her photos of protesters and asked her if she knew them.

. . .

She was eventually released on a form of bail that prevented her from leaving Shenzhen.

. . .

Before she was released, she said, she was forced to say on video that she had not been abused while in custody, that she would not talk to the news media about her experience and that she would never protest again.

Last month, one full year after the initial bail period began, she was given the necessary paperwork allowing her to leave Shenzhen and return to Hong Kong.

. . .

For Ms. Wong, protesting now comes with greater risks. Waving a Union Jack — in her mind a symbol of the rights protected by the British government, not an endorsement of colonialism — has become “very dangerous,” she said. But detention has only strengthened her resolve for democracy.

Despite the pledges she made under duress, she continues to protest, and recently took the subway for an hour to the northeast corner of Hong Kong Island, where a trial is scheduled to begin for six young demonstrators charged with illegal assembly.

She walked to the courthouse carrying a handwritten sign: “Save HK Youths.”

For the full story, see:

Austin Ramzy. “After Vanishing in August, ‘Grandma Wong’ Returns to Hong Kong Protests.” The New York Times (Wednesday, November 11, 2020): A11.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated Nov. 12, 2020, and has the title “Hong Kong Protest Icon Mysteriously Vanished. Then She Returned, Unbowed.”)


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