The wild boars of Hong Kong, involuntary heroes against repression – Ilaria Maria Sala

The wild boars of Hong Kong, involuntary heroes against repression – Ilaria Maria Sala
The wild boars of Hong Kong, involuntary heroes against repression – Ilaria Maria Sala

Now, we are all crying for the boars.

As happens in many other metropolises that have expanded to the detriment of the hilly areas and the animals that live there, or inhabited them, even the urban areas of Hong Kong are periodically visited by wild boars. Usually this happens without great confusion: the wild boars make themselves visible, and sometimes this produces incongruous images. Wild boars at the edge of a luxury swimming pool – making everyone laugh except the pool owners. Wild boars wandering the streets with the neon signs of the shops and advertising screens in the background. Wild boars around a subway station.

In the last decade, however, they have attacked people 47 times: experts say that part of the problem stems from the decrease in the living space of wild boars in favor of humans. In part it would be a problem due to excessive sympathy, as many people feed them with what they have at hand – bread, snacks, sweets. And the wild boars would get used to it, so they look for treats by approaching inhabited areas, and in front of frightened people, or without even a candy to share, they can become aggressive.

The fact is that to change the cards on the table was the latest attack: a wild boar, unwary, bit a policeman.

Attract and suppress
As if to confirm that, after the protests of 2019, no one has the right to criticize the police in any way, here it was announced that the wild boars will be killed, five times a month, to reduce their number (and to secure the police. ?). The decision was announced on November 17 and the killings began the next day, with lethal injection, and since then all Hong Kong social networks are full of wild boars, unwitting new heroes of the fight against repression. Until 2019, the Hong Kong veterinary services captured them, sterilized them and then released them into the wild. But just as much else has changed after 2019, so has also happened to wild boars: after all, the new policy towards them, guilty of biting the police, pales in front of the new educational policy, which wants the patriotism lessons to begin at asylum.

Particularly shocking is the fact that the police have not limited themselves to not listening to those who suggest sterilizing them, or to educate the public not to give them food, but have presented themselves at the limits of the wooded areas where the animals live, scattering pieces of bread on the ground, in so as to bring them closer. And so seven were killed, who trusted the police’s fragrant crumbs.

It took nothing to identify: in recent months we have seen so many times a student accused of having thrown a brick or an umbrella to the police, without necessarily having hit anyone, find themselves serving prison sentences for what could have happened. But almost all police complaints have so far been resolved with absolutely nothing, as the police tend to acquit themselves, and there is not much to appeal to in the new Hong Kong.

Avoid self-censorship
Here then appear on social boars of all kinds. One, by the satirical artist Ah To, re-proposes a famous photograph of Tiananmen from 1989, in which two bloodless bodies are seen lying on the back of a tricycle cart, driven by people with anguished faces.

Chinese artist Wang Xiaowei had already taken the photo in 2001, replacing the bodies of the two injured young people with two injured penguins and calling him New Beijing. The painting is now in the Uli Sigg collection at the new M + Museum in Hong Kong, a visual culture museum with global ambitions that opened on November 11, and which has managed, with Wang’s penguins and a few other works, to place to silence the accusations of self-censorship. In fact, on the day of the opening the presence of New Beijing it was noticed by all, and seen as a sign of resistance. So now Ah To has painted the same scene, in which all, both the wounded (one instead of two) and those trying to bring him to safety, are wild boars.

Others, anonymously, have posted online profile images of Hong Kong skyscrapers topped by a boar, or small images of boar families crying.

“We are all wild boars!” they say writings that have just appeared on social networks. Some young people tried to get closer to the areas where the wild boars were killed, but nothing to do, they were stopped by the police. Today it is practically no longer possible to protest against the decisions of the authorities in Hong Kong, much less if these decisions were made by an increasingly omnipresent and unassailable police.

While the tragedy of the wild boars saddens everyone, in fact, some Hong Kong walls show flyers of candidates in the next legislative elections. These are all new elections, after the law, wanted by Beijing, was applied to “improve them” and ensure that “only patriots govern Hong Kong”. All the pro-democracy candidates in the past elections are either in exile, or in prison, or have not been able to reapply because they are judged not to be sufficiently patriotic.

So even if the government insists it is a crime to encourage people to vote blank or not to vote, I have to say that I too tend to forget the election date. In fact, the government would like there to be some competition between the candidates, to give itself a patina of legitimacy, but at the same time it has eliminated all the opposition candidates: how can one be patriotic and at the same time oppose the government? Therefore the debates are between candidates all in agreement with each other, and it is difficult to understand how to give a preference.

Demonstrations continue to be prohibited – officially because of the pandemic – and there are no longer any opposition free to question the work of the government: the only sign of protest, apart from the one that can be seen online, is a petition that collected only 70,000 signatures in one day, to support wild boars and against killing.

We are all wild boars.

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