Growing ranks of Hong Kong’s typically conservative and publicity-shy bureaucrats have begun an unprecedented online dissent campaign against the city’s pro-Beijing leaders over their response to weeks of violent pro-democracy protests.
Multiple open letters have been signed by hundreds of anonymous civil servants in the past week condemning the administration of city leader Carrie Lam and the police.
A group of civil servants has also announced plans to hold a rally on Friday night – something unheard of from a demographic that usually eschews politics.
The letters – accompanied by photos of civil servant identity cards with personal details obscured -bemoan Lam’s lack of leadership and refusal to compromise as her administration grapples with huge protests rocking the international finance hub.
Civil servants interviewed by AFP said they felt compelled to speak out after nearly two months of chaos that shows no signs of abating, with Lam seemingly unable – or unwilling – to find a solution and Beijing continuing to back her government.
Many decided to break their silence after a vicious attack on protesters by pro-government thugs and suspected triad members that left 45 people in hospital.
“I hope to use this letter to tell citizens that the people are our real bosses,” a 30-year-old executive officer and anonymous signatory who only gave her surname Leung, told AFP.
“We need to use this special role of ours to make sure the government squarely faces and responds to issues.”
An officer in her mid-twenties in the government’s food and environmental hygiene department said she planned to attend Friday’s rally because Lam’s administration had not shown “a sliver of conscience”.
“If I don’t speak up now, I would be complicit in their abuses,” she told AFP.
“The current government has lost its credibility and used the violence of the system and the police to suppress people’s voices and deprive them of their fundamental rights.”
The Hong Kong protests were triggered by a government proposal which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, but have since evolved into a call for wider democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms.