One year ago, Hong Kong's streets were shut down by pro-democracy activists who occupied them for 79 days in what became known as the "Umbrella Movement". The protests were led by students and other activists who took to the streets to voice their opposition to Beijing's plan to restrict elections for the leader of the semi-autonomous Chinese city.
The protest was kicked off by students, led by Joshua Wong, who stormed into the government headquarters compound on 26 September. They were promptly arrested by the police. Two days later tens of thousands of supporters flooded onto a major highway in Hong Kong, blocking traffic, and stayed there despite police firing 87 rounds of tear gas in one day.
While largely peaceful, the size and duration of the protests – and the fact that they took place in full view of international media, who filmed the activists using umbrellas to defend themselves against police tear gas, pepper spray and batons – raised a serious challenge to China's Communist Party. The movement fizzled out as the government stuck to a hard line and authorities eventually cleared out all three protest camps.
IBTimesUK looks back at 2014's Hong Kong Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests in 40 powerful photos.
28 September 2014: Police officers stand in front of pro-democracy protesters during a demonstration in Hong Kong Xaume Olleros/AFP 28 September 2014: A pro-democracy protester confronts the police during a demonstration in Hong Kong Xaume Olleros/AFP 28 September 2014: A riot policeman uses pepper spray during clashes with protesters outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong Tyrone Siu/Reuters 28 September 2014: A protester holds on to a fence as riot policemen fire tear gas to disperse protesters blocking the road leading to the financial district in Hong Kong Tyrone Siu/Reuters 28 September 2014: Police fire tear gas on pro-democracy demonstrators near the Hong Kong government headquarters Aaron Tam/AFP 29 September 2014: Riot police fire tear gas to disperse protesters outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong Reuters 28 September 2014: A pro-democracy demonstrator gestures after police fired tear gas towards protesters near the Hong Kong government headquarters Xaume Olleros/AFP 29 September 2014: Protesters hold their mobile phones up as they block the main street to the financial district in Hong Kong Carlos Barria/Reuters 30 September 2014: Protesters take cover from the rain under umbrellas outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong Carlos Barria/Reuters 30 September 2014: Protesters are reflected in a puddle as they block an area near the government headquarters Carlos Barria/Reuters
1 October 2014: Joshua Wong, leader of the student movement, delivers a speech outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong Carlos Barria/Reuters 2 October 2014: A woman looks at notes left by pro-democracy protesters on a footbridge in Hong Kong Bobby Yip/Reuters 3 October 2014: A pro-democracy protester working as medical volunteer sleeps in a makeshift supply area on a flyover in Hong Kong Anthony Wallace/AFP 3 October 2014: A man is held back by police as he screams at pro-democracy protesters to stop occupying an area of the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong Alex Ogle/AFP 4 October 2014: Anti-Occupy Central protesters try to remove a barricade on a main street in Hong Kong's Mongkok shopping district Carlos Barria/Reuters 5 October 2014: Yau, 22, gets down on one knees to propose to his girlfriend Chen, 21, on a street in the Mongkok shopping district in Hong Kong Liau Chung-ren/Reuters 5 October 2014: A sculpture named Umbrella Man, by the Hong Kong artist known as Milk, is set up at a pro-democracy protest site next to the central government offices Alex Ogle/AFP 9 October 2014: Anti-government protesters play table tennis on a main road in the Mongkok shopping district Tyrone Siu/Reuters 11 October 2014: An art installation made with umbrellas is seen in a commercial area of Causeway Bay in Hong Kong Tyrone Siu/Reuters 13 October 2014: Pro-democracy protesters use bamboo to strengthen a barricade blocking a major road in Hong Kong Alex Ogle/AFP 14 October 2014: Police officers stand guard to create a cordon on a street outside the Hong Kong government complex Anthony Kwan/Getty Images 14 October 2014: Police remove a barricade at a protest site in Admiralty near the government headquarters in Hong Kong Carlos Barria/Reuters 14 October 2014: Policemen remove a barricade made from bamboo left by pro-democracy protesters on a main road leading to the financial Central district in Hong Kong Bobby Yip/Reuters 14 October 2014: Police officers carry a sign that calls for "Genuine Universal Suffrage in HK" as they dismantle a pro-democracy protest barricade in Hong Kong Alex Ogle/AFP 15 October 2014: A pro-democracy protester reacts after being pepper-sprayed in the face in Hong Kong Alex Ogle/AFP 16 October 2014: Police use pepper spray as they clash with pro-democracy protesters at an area near the government headquarters building in Hong Kong Carlos Barria/Reuters 17 October 2014: Pro-democracy demonstrators face police during a standoff amid ongoing protests in the Mongkok district of Hong Kong Ed Jones/AFP 17 October 2014: Pro-democracy protesters and bystanders gather around a police line in the Mongkok district of Hong Kong Ed Jones/AFP 17 October 2014: Police charge towards pro-democracy protesters during clashes in the Mongkok district Ed Jones/AFP 17 October 2014: A local Hong Kong journalist collapses in agony after being hit in the face with pepper spray in the Mongkok district of Hong Kong Alex Ogle/AFP 24 October 2014: A pro-democracy supporter dressed as Spider-Man inspects a fellow protester after he was hit by an object in the Mongkok shopping district Tyrone Siu/Reuters 28 October 2014: Umbrellas are opened as tens of thousands of people come to the main protest site one month after the Hong Kong police first used tear gas to disperse protesters Paula Bronstein/Getty Images 12 November 2014: A carboard cutout of Chinese President Xi Jinping holding a yellow umbrella, the symbol of the movement, is seen at a protest site in the Admiralty district Kevin Frayer/Getty Images 14 November 2014: A couple kiss as they stand near a wall with messages left by protesters as they pose for a wedding photographer at the Admiralty pro-democracy protest site Kevin Frayer/Getty Images 24 November 2014: A man looks at a painting at a protest site in the Admiralty district, depicting riot police using pepper spray against pro-democracy protesters Anthony Wallace/AFP 25 November 2014: A police officer gestures as he stands on a barricade during the clearance of a major protest site in the Mongkok district Philippe Lopez/AFP 25 November 2014: Police use pepper spray as they clear a road at a pro-democracy protest site in the Mongkok district of Hong Kong Philippe Lopez/AFP 25 November 2014: Police officers use pepper spray as they clash with pro-democracy protesters outside Hong Kong's government complex Chris McGrath/Getty Images 26 November 2014: Pro-democracy protesters walk away with their belongings after packing up and leaving the protest site Alex Ogle/AFP 26 November 2014: Workers spray a road, previously occupied by pro-democracy protesters, after police completed their clearance of a major protest site in the Mongkok district of Hong Kong Philippe Lopez/AFP