Beginning in September 2014, students in Hong Kong took the streets to protest electoral reforms imposed by the Chinese government and to demand greater democratic rights. The Prague Freedom Foundation (PFF) came up with an innovative way to show
support for this movement by repurposing one of Prague’s own symbols of freedom and dissent – the Lennon Wall.
AAU student Oceane Herpin, who started her internship at PFF a year ago, has taken an active part in the project. With a LennonWall.org badge on her sweater, she explained how things got started. PFF members were in Burma, “developing projects to help journalists there, when the protests broke out in Hong Kong and the team decided they couldn’t miss this opportunity to be involved in the movement.”
Whilst in Hong Kong, the PFF team created Prague’s sister Lennon Wall, giving citizens a physical place to express their messages of solidarity. The post-it notes used created a spectacular mosaic. Along with the iconic umbrellas, the Lennon Wall Hong Kong has become one of the central points of the movement. Thus, sharing the ideals and lessons of the Czech struggle against totalitarian regimes with people across the world.
“We used the great timing of the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution because these movements parallel each other in many ways, even though they are 25 years apart,” said Herpin. PFF launched lennonwall.org, an interactive website where anyone can send messages to the protesters via a live Instagram feed – and the people of Hong Kong are watching.
“That’s been one of the most rewarding things, seeing the response that we get from students in Hong Kong. Saying how moving it is to see people on the other side of the world are actually thinking about them and giving them support even if it is just through words,” said Herpin.
PFF, which is a non-profit organization based in Prague, has a history of supporting pro-democratic efforts throughout the world. “It was initially conceived in connection to Radio Free Europe. One of our first programs, called the Vaclav Havel Fellowship, was initiated to help fund and train journalists from the RFE broadcast regions in the Prague headquarters and give them tools and equipment so they are able to go back to their countries and be successful journalists,” explained Herpin.
AAU students can too become a part of the Lennon Wall movement, as PFF is seeking activists to spread the message. Herpin had her own words of encouragement as well: “We’re part of a generation that really should be as engaged as possible. Not only have a narrow vision of one’s own world, but understanding that in this interconnected world we all have a responsibility to think about what’s going on and helping each other out.