In the sweltering sun, about 40 activists from the pan-democratic camp closed their ranks, bowed their heads and crouched in defensive positions.
Then the water cannons were fired at them, the high-velocity streams of water pounding their bodies, pinning them to the ground and drenching their clothes. Some of them fell but regained their position, others sought cover at the back of their comrades, but they all stood their ground.
When the assault finally stopped, they stood up smiling while the crowd cheered.
The scene was a live-action exercise organized by pan-democratic leaders on Sunday as they prepare for Occupy Central’s civil disobedience campaign, which they probably will launch this month in response to Beijing’s decision on political reform.
Among those who joined the exercise at Tai Lam Chung in Tuen Mun were Emily Lau Wai-hing, Albert Ho Chun-yan, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, and Alliance for True Democracy convenor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, Apple Daily reported on Monday.
The water cannons, which they anticipate anti-riot police will employ to quell their protests, came from two trucks, which were fired at them right in front, at the back and as they crouched on the ground.
The activists were advised to take off their glasses, bow their heads and keep their chest and stomach protected if the water cannons are fired in front.
Andrew To Kwan-hang from the League of Social Democrats, who organized the exercise, said the water pressure used in the exercise was about 100 pounds and could shoot up to 10 storeys high.
But he said the pressure was still lower than that from the water cannons employed by the police force.
“The drill today is not only to get us ready for Occupy Central. It’s also to show to the people that they face water cannons, pepper spray or tear gas when they fight for their rights,” To said.
He also said the organizers hope the drill will convince authorities that their protests are meant to be peaceful.
– Contact us at [email protected],com