HONG KONG—Lennon Walls seem to be popping up everywhere in Hong Kong across tunnels and train stations.
“Here, and everywhere in 18 districts in Hong Kong, it lets the people [have] freedom of expression,” a Lennon Wall volunteer giving only her first name, Francis, told NTD.
Now, the Lennon Wall—a wall full of memos, sticky notes, and posters with pro-freedom art and messages—represents a monument to free speech and non-violent war against communist regimes.
Many younger people take the time to volunteer at the walls, mainly putting the posters and sticky-notes back up after they’ve been torn down, to contribute what they can to the pro-democracy effort without having to go to the front-lines of the protests.
“We are angry, we’re enraged, because some of the people cannot go up to the front line, and some elderly they wanted to help,” Francis said.
“I’m 17-years-old and I come here to voice out my mind to the Hong Kong government,” said Mabel, a student who volunteers at a Lennon Wall. “They shot the people and I feel very angry and so I come here to volunteer.”
Time after time, pro-China people and authorities tear down the posters—which feature messages like “Fight for Freedom,” “Stand with Hong Kong,” and “Democracy Now”—but Hongkongers and volunteers continue to remake them and put them back up.
“I feel like, well they tear it up and they tear it up—I don’t care,” said Hilton, another young volunteer. “As long as they keep ripping it off, I will just keep sticking it up back, back up again.
“I won’t stop them because it’s very dangerous if they do something to harm us, so I will let them do to destroy [the wall] and we will do it back,” said Mabel.
Freedom of Expression
Stationary and sticky notes are supplied for people passing by to leave a message in a memo. Pro-democracy posters and signs are also pasted and taped to the floor, walls, and ceilings of tunnels and train stations.
“For example, I walk through the tunnel and I have something I want to say, want to tell the people who walk through the tunnel,” said Mabel. “And I stay here, write something, and stick it.”
Volunteers say they have talked to those who are depressed because of the situation in Hong Kong and offer counsel.
“We have two cases in here, two females before they came to this tunnel they already had a plan to suicide, to kill themselves,” said Francis. “But before, they walk down this tunnel and they look at each memo and they see the warm feeling.”
Francis said the girl was saved because she felt the community was like a family.
“So that day she decided not to follow her plan,” said Francis.
Cases like this make volunteers feel their role is an important form of support for the protests.
“That’s why the community of each district is very, it’s very key and essential to have the volunteer no matter how old you are, I can be a listener,” said Francis.
Last week, a 19-year-old boy was cut on the throat and stabbed in the stomach by a pro-communist man while handing out democracy fliers near a Lennon wall.
“This man is coming from mainlander, and he has a knife in his pocket,” said Francis. “Which is he has the weapon, and he has intention, and he slash, he stabbed this guy who is only 19-years-old.”
In August, a man from communist-controlled China stabbed two women for posting memos on a Lennon Wall, as well as a man who tried to intervene. One of them was left in critical condition.
The term “Lennon wall” goes back to the totalitarian era in the Czech Republic, when the pacifist youth in Prague expressed their hopes and dreams on a wall that came to be known as the “John Lennon Peace Wall.” Risking prison, youth would defy authorities to write on the wall, an act the communist police called “subversive activities against the state.”
Some say the Lennon wall in Prague helped inspire the non-violent Velvet Revolution that led to the fall of Communism in former Czechoslovakia in 1989.
While Lennon Walls aim to raise awareness and spread messages, they are also offering a form of support. For many, it’s a way to unite, and reassure each other that they are not alone.