TIME Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Protests Have Given Rise to a New Political Generation

However the Occupy Central protests end, it is clear that Hong Kong's smart, determined and peaceful young people have finally found their political power

Dawn in Hong Kong would break in little more than an hour, and the young men at the barricades early on Oct. 6 were nervous. A 25-year-old tech executive’s eyes filled with tears, and he clenched his jaw. Rumors, they said, had mysterious men in black shirts amassing in a restaurant in the Wanchai district, just down the deserted avenue from the roadblocks that members of Hong Kong’s protest movement had set up more than a week before.

The stretch on Queensway, in the shadow of government offices, the High Court, and a shopping mall, was empty save the few jittery barricade defenders and a fellow protester who snoozed on a wooden plank. Two of the men had wrapped their hands in towels they hoped might protect their knuckles from whatever violence might come their way.

“We don’t know what will happen,” said the 25-year-old, peering east into the dark toward Wanchai. “But we are scared.”

The men in black shirts did not materialize. Nor did the police. Despite a vow from Hong Kong’s top leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, to clear major streets for the beginning of the workweek, the Hong Kong protest movement still occupies major commercial areas in the Asian financial capital. By daybreak on Monday, the number of journalists and protest tourists prowling the main demonstration site in Admiralty almost outnumbered the remaining protesters. Still, the barricades, set up to defend a movement demanding democratic commitments from the Chinese central government, held.

“I choose to stand up,” says Jennifer Wong, a 17-year-old high school student from the New Territories, near the border with mainland China. “Maybe [the movement] will not work in the end, but we will regret it if we don’t try.”

Protest leaders, from the three main groups that had banded together to establish this democratic crusade 10 days ago, strategized throughout Sunday as Leung’s ultimatum to disperse loomed. Powwows took place in the quiet halls of the Legislative Council building, where two of the protest blocs had set up makeshift command headquarters. But it was not clear who had the authority to negotiate on behalf of the protesters (or wanted to exercise that power), nor was it apparent who formally represented the government’s side. “The beauty of the movement is that there is no leader,” said one adviser to the Occupy Central group, which kick-started the peaceful siege that has drawn tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents, many of them young and middle class. “But that’s also its flaw.”

Outside the Legco building, dozens of protesters tended to their encampments, accepting donations of drinking water or adjusting pieces of cardboard that served as both bedroom and living room. Some had been there since the beginning and had clear demands: the resignation of Chief Executive Leung, who is considered the central government’s proxy in Hong Kong, and a rollback of Beijing’s plan to prevent the territory’s voters from directly electing their leader in 2017. Others had joined the protest movement later, shocked into action by the aggressive tactics that had been used to try to break up the rallies, including police tear gas and thuggery from elements linked to Hong Kong’s triad mafia.

It’s clear that the protesters are joined in their anger toward Beijing, which they feel is degrading the liberties that make Hong Kong a unique city in China, such as an independent judiciary and media. (When the former British colony was returned to China in 1997, the outpost was promised a high degree of autonomy for 50 years under a formulation called “one country, two systems.”) For the demonstrators, Leung is also a vilified character, maligned as much for his Beijing yes-man reputation as for the decision to unleash tear gas and pepper spray on the protesters on Sept. 28. But unity of message doesn’t necessarily mean that the protesters are falling in line behind a certain individual who can carry the movement forward.

“We all want the same thing,” says Daisy Lee, a 33-year-old clerk. “But we’re not here because we support one person or one group.” Lee worries that the diffuse nature of the rallies could undercut their ultimate effectiveness. “I’ve spent so many hours here,” she says. “But none of the so-called trio of groups has come to talk to us. Are they communicating with each other? We don’t know. We need strong leadership.”

Already, certain demands from protest leaders have gone unheeded by the rank and file, like a call from student activists to consolidate and abandon a satellite protest site across Victoria Harbour. On Sunday afternoon, a message went out from the Occupy group announcing that protesters had pulled back from a picket at the entrance to the chief executive’s office. But as night fell, students and other youth, surrounded by the inevitable journalist hordes, maintained their vigil at that precise point.

On Monday morning, the diehards that remained stood by as civil servants trooped in to work. Crisis had been averted and ultimatums or conditions from both sides were politely ignored. Throughout Monday, more talks were to take place between the myriad players in this unlikely movement. From a scorecard perspective, the protesters had prevailed the night before by peacefully defying the government’s order to cease and desist. But it’s still hard to see what significant political concessions they can wrest from Beijing, which has been churning out articles and cartoons in the state-run media both deriding and assailing their civil disobedience. Conciliatory moves by Chinese President Xi Jinping could make his administration look weak, and he has not given the impression of a leader enamored by the art of compromise.

As the workweek began in Hong Kong and traffic snarled because of the protest roadblocks, patience from a sector of ordinary citizens may wear thin. Already, some Hong Kong residents were quietly criticizing the continuing shutdown of major business and tourist areas. “Of course I support more democracy for Hong Kong and am not opposed to [the protesters’] ideals,” said a woman surnamed Liu, who came with her 11-year-old son to look at the occupied site in Mongkok district. “But we need to eat, to do business. How can we do that when they take over the streets?”

Whatever happens, Hong Kong’s political consciousness has been awakened. Emily Lau, a veteran local legislator, jokes that she’s been labeled “a head-banger” for her decades of pro-democracy work. “It’s very invigorating to have such a spontaneous, peaceful movement full of young people,” she says. “Once people have been shown their power they will know how to use it again and again.”

Lau could well be talking about Tanson Tsui, a high school student with a backpack full of English homework who was camped out at the entrance to the chief executive’s office on Sunday night. Tsui was born in 1997, the year the British handed Hong Kong back to China. “I came here because of myself,” he said. “I am not following anyone, I have no leader. I will fight to the end because I am Hong Kongese and I have to protect my home.”

With reporting by Zoher Abdoolcarim / Hong Kong

— Video by Helen Regan / Hong Kong

TIME faith

Defining Extraordinary Synod: A Glossary for the Pope’s Big Gathering

Pope Attends Holy Mass For The Opening Of The Extraordinary Synod On The Family
Franco Origlia—Getty Images Pope Francis attends the Opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops in St. Peter's Basilica on Oct. 5, 2014 in Vatican City.

In a meeting about the future of the Catholic Church, the terminology is sometime ancient Greek

There’s a lot about the Extraordinary Synod of the Bishops on the Family that may seem unfamiliar or foreign to observers—especially the vocabulary. As leaders of the Catholic church gather this week at the Vatican to discuss issues, including divorce and remarriage, here’s a rundown of synod-speak for the uninitiated:

Synod: a gathering of clergy, or a church council; synod means “coming together” in Greek

Extraordinary Synod: a synod called for a special and urgent purpose

Synod Father: a priest participating in the synod

Intervention: a written statement composed and submitted by a synod father about views and topics he would like considered in the synod

Ecclesial: having to do with the church

Relator (pronounced, real-AH-tor): the designated person in an ecclesial gathering who conveys, writes or records the information that the meeting will discuss. The 2014 Synod Relator is Cardinal Péter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Hungary.

Secretary General: the synod’s basic administrator who assists in all the synod’s preparations and forthcoming documents. The 2014 Synod Secretary General is Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri

Mitre: the pointed hat a bishop wears for special occasions, like synod masses

Auditor: person specially selected by Pope Francis to observe the synod and all its proceedings

Fraternal delegates: representatives of non-Catholic Christian communities who are present at the synod

Voting members: cardinals and other papal appointees who can vote in the synod

Non-voting members: auditors, observers, and other participants who cannot vote in the synod

TIME Military

Greasing the Skids of War: Rethinking the Carter Doctrine

Obama Speaks At Disabled Veterans Memorial Dedication
Pool / Getty Images President Obama speaks Sunday at a new memorial in Washington dedicated to disabled veterans.

After 34 years—and 14 conflicts around the Middle East—it's time to wean the U.S. off Persian Gulf oil

As the U.S.-led war in Syria enters its third week, Americans can be excused for believing their nation has been shooting up the Middle East forever.

But they’d be wrong. It’s only been going on, off and on, since 34 years ago. That’s when, shortly after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter told Moscow—and anyone else who might be listening—that Washington was willing to go to war to keep the Persian Gulf’s petroleum tap open and fueling the U.S. economy.

“The region which is now threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan is of great strategic importance: it contains more than two-thirds of the world’s exportable oil,” Carter said in his final State of the Union address on Jan. 23, 1980.

“The Soviet effort to dominate Afghanistan has brought Soviet military forces to within 300 miles of the Indian Ocean and close to the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway through which most of the world’s oil must flow,” he continued. “Let our position be absolutely clear: an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

So here we are, a generation later: the Soviets are out of Afghanistan, and America is in.

And even though the fight in Afghanistan is the nation’s longest war—and gets longer every day—it’s only one of many Islamic hotspots the U.S. has struck since Carter put down his Middle East marker. Former Army officer Andrew Bacevich, now at Columbia University, rattled them off Sunday in a column in the Washington Post:

Iran (1980, 1987-1988), Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, 2014-), Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996), Afghanistan (1998, 2001-), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000, 2002-), Pakistan (2004-) and now Syria.

Bacevich writes:

As America’s efforts to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ Islamic State militants extend into Syria, Iraq War III has seamlessly morphed into Greater Middle East Battlefield XIV. That is, Syria has become at least the 14th country in the Islamic world that U.S. forces have invaded or occupied or bombed, and in which American soldiers have killed or been killed. And that’s just since 1980.

President Obama acknowledged the toll Sunday, when he spoke at the dedication of the new American Veterans Disabled for Life memorial near the Capitol. “Let’s never rush into war, because it is America’s sons and daughters who bear the scars of war for the rest of their lives,” he said at the memorial, which honors the nation’s 4 million disabled vets. “Let us only send them into harm’s way when it’s absolutely necessary.” Perhaps there was a whiff of hindsight in his words.

But it may be foresight to revisit Carter’s declaration. While the hunger for oil remains relentless, the U.S. is far more energy independent today than it was in 1980. That should allow the U.S. to ease its addiction to Persian Gulf oil, which too often has served to grease the skids of war.

“This July the United States replaced Saudi Arabia as the world’s No. 1 oil producer,” Arthur Herman of the Hudson Institute wrote last month in National Review, “and virtually every industry study indicates that the trend will continue through the next two decades and beyond.” Much of the U.S. gain is due to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a production method that now accounts for roughly a third of U.S. oil and gas production.

Adds Herman:

The Islamic State’s use of captured Iraqi oil wells to pay for its murderous atrocities is just the latest and most blatant example of the oil-into-terrorism dynamic that’s ruled the Middle East for decades—and all, ironically, under the protective umbrella of American arms. Just keeping the region’s shipping lanes, including the Strait of Hormuz, open to tanker traffic costs the Pentagon on average $50 billion a year—a service that earns us the undying enmity of populations in that region even as their governments take our protection for granted.

Actually, U.S. taxpayers have spent close to $10 trillion to keep oil flowing to the world from Persian Gulf, based on a 2010 analysis from Roger Stern, an economic geographer at Princeton University.

Imagine if a slice of that had instead been invested to speed up U.S. energy independence. Wars would surely still unfold in the Middle East—as they will likely do so for generations—but it’d be bracing to watch them from the sidelines, for a change.

TIME Mexico

Newly Discovered Mass Grave Linked to Missing Mexican Students

A soldier guards an area where a mass grave was found, in Colonia las Parotas on the outskirts of Iguala, in Guerrero
Jorge Dan Lopez—Reuters A soldier guards an area where a mass grave was found, in Colonia las Parotas on the outskirts of Iguala, in Guerrero, Mexico on Oct. 4, 2014.

But an official says it would be "irresponsible" to identify the bodies as the missing students

A mass grave with an unconfirmed number of bodies was discovered in a part of Mexico near to where 43 college students were abducted, authorities announced Saturday night.

Guerrero State Attorney General Iñaky Blanco said there was a connection between the burial site and the students’ disappearance from a teachers’ college the previous weekend, the Wall Street Journal reports. However, Blanco said it would be “irresponsible” without DNA tests to confirm that the bodies were the missing students.

Mexico’s Proceso, citing anonymous sources, reported that 20 bodies had been discovered. The Associated Press reports that six pits had been discovered but did not report a body count.

The students disappeared after clashing with police during a protest that turned violent. Officials have detained 30 people, including 22 police officers, in the case. Blanco said that a local criminal organization, Los Guerreros Unidos, was connected with the violence and the disappearances.

Close to 100,000 Mexicans have been killed or gone missing in drug-related violence since 2006, when former President Felipe Calderon ordered the country’s military to reclaim parts of the country under the influence of drug cartels.

[WSJ]

TIME faith

Pope Francis’ Family Synod Forgoes Flash for Spiritual Depth

Pope Attends Holy Mass For The Opening Of The Extraordinary Synod On The Family
Franco Origlia—Getty Images Pope Francis attends the Opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops in St. Peter's Basilica on Oct. 5, 2014 in Vatican City.

It can be easy to fixate on the idea that the Extraordinary Synod on the Family beginning in Rome this week is purely about Catholic Church politics. The world clamors for the latest Catholic hubbub about divorce and remarriage policies, annulment reform, and which Cardinal holds which position on what agenda or controversial marital issue. But something more is happening as bishops gather for the first major doctrinal and pastoral summit of the Francis papacy; something quieter, deeper, and less immediately obvious: a spiritual renewal that Pope Francis hopes to foster between church leaders and their people.

This spiritual undercurrent, although quiet, has been powerfully present in the Holy Father’s actions this weekend. On Saturday evening, before the synod officially began and as a pink sun set behind St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis called the people to gather in the piazza to pray for the upcoming two-weeks of Synod conversations. A choir chanted a hymn as tens of thousands of people arrived, each silently, most with their families. When dusk fell and the moon had risen, each person lit a candle, and thousands of drops of light filled the square. Vieni Santo Spirito, vieni, or Come Holy Spirit, come, the people sang with the choir, over and over. “May the Wind of Pentecost blow upon the Synod’s work, on the Church, and on all of humanity,” Francis told to the crowd. “Undo the knots which prevent people from encountering one another, heal the wounds that bleed, rekindle hope.”

This prayer service was more testimony to the conviction that any real change in the Church must start with prayer—and a reminder of the people themselves. They, these people, these families, are the reason Francis called this Extraordinary Synod in the first place. It is only the third such special meeting a Pope has called since the Synod of the Bishops was created in 1965. The crowd was so vast that Francis himself most surely could not see the details—the children playing with their candles and dripping wax in patterns on the pavers, mothers comforting crying babies, a son helping a grandmother to a chair, the teenage couple taking selfies—but these are the people who experience the issues of family and marriage in ways clergy, who are celibate, rarely do. He was telling the people that they were foremost on his mind as the Synod began.

Francis was also reminding the bishops that the people were foremost on his mind. Most of the church leaders present Saturday evening had just arrived in Rome after having prepared for the Synod for a year, surveying their own congregations about modern family life for their peers’ review these coming weeks. Now, Francis stood before them and the first thing he did was to gather them to encounter the people and their sparks of light. Only when the service ended did he turn to greet the cardinals, one by one. The liturgical message about his priorities, and their priorities in turn, was hard to miss.

If the Holy Father’s Saturday prayer service was about the people, his Sunday mass turned to the bishops. Inside St. Peter’s Basilica, standing beneath Michelangelo’s dome and above St. Peter’s tomb, the Holy Father gave a pointed homily about the bishops’ role. The job of leaders, he preached, is to nurture the vineyard—a Biblical image for the people of God. “Synod Assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent,” he preached. “We are all sinners and can also be tempted to ‘take over’ the vineyard, because of that greed which is always present in us human beings. God’s dream always clashes with the hypocrisy of some of his servants. We can ‘thwart’ God’s dream if we fail to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit.”

His meaning was clear. This meeting is not a time for the bishops to each shine with their own debates, Francis was saying, but rather a time to focus on the people and what the people need. It is, as he put it, about developing “plans [that] will correspond to God’s dream: to form a holy people who are his own and produce the fruits of the kingdom of God.”

The next two weeks will be telling. Francis is presiding over the world’s last truly medieval court, which can at times appear to revert to high school drama and power plays. But the spiritual moments that have shaped the Synod’s start are a concrete reminder that Francis the pastor is the one calling the shots. He’s the one walking the incense around the papal altar at mass, he’s the one celebrating Eucharist, and he’s the one determining where the ultimate emphasis is placed. He is the one in St. Peter’s seat. The bishops are there at his request. It’s the tone he sets that matters.

TIME Hong Kong

6 Questions You Might Have About Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Pro-democracy demonstration in Hong Kong, Sept. 3, 2014.
James Nachtwey for TIME Pro-democracy demonstration in Hong Kong, Sept. 3, 2014.

New to this? Here's why tens of thousands of young people have come out on to the streets of China's most international city

1. Why the umbrellas?

Hong Kong students are currently protesting for more political freedom and have been using umbrellas to protect themselves from police pepper spray. The umbrellas became a symbol of the movement and gave it its nickname, the Umbrella Revolution. Though protest leaders say their campaign is not a revolution but a civil-disobedience movement, the name Umbrella Revolution has stuck.

2. Who are the main players?

The movement was initiated by a group called Occupy Central With Love & Peace, led by Hong Kong University law professor Benny Tai. Tai’s original agenda was to stage a sit-in on Oct. 1 in Central — the city’s financial district — but he decided to begin a few days earlier to capitalize on political momentum after several students were pepper-sprayed and arrested. That heavy-handed police action also spurred parallel sit-ins in Causeway Bay and across the water in Kowloon.

There are also student groups separate from Occupy Central but with very similar aims. The two main ones are Scholarism, led by a precocious 17-year-old, Joshua Wong, and the Hong Kong Federation of Students, led by Alex Chow, 24, and his deputy, Lester Shum.

3. So what do Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters want?

The main demand is full democracy. Protesters want the right to nominate and directly elect the head of the Hong Kong government, known as the chief executive.

China, which resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong after it stopped being a British colony in 1997, wants to screen who can stand for office. Beijing insists that candidates for the chief-executive position must be vetted by an electoral committee of tycoons, oligarchs and pro-Beijing figures.

As a secondary demand, protesters want the current chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, to resign, which he has flatly refused to do. Leung is widely disliked because he is seen as prioritizing China’s interests over Hong Kong’s. He was also indirectly elected by an electoral college of just 1,200 voters, of which 689 voted for him. He is mockingly referred to as “689” after this feeble tally.

4. Well, why doesn’t China just let Hong Kong have more freedom?

The Communist Party insists on maintaining political control. It isn’t about to let China’s most international city — which is already highly porous — choose its own leader, in case an opponent of the Communist Party gets elected as chief executive and becomes an advertisement to the rest of China of the possibility of democratic change.

At the same time, Beijing is aware that Hong Kong, because of its past as a British territory, is a special case. Hong Kong has an independent judiciary, common law, freedom of information and movement, a reasonably free press and so on. The Communist Party thinks this semiautonomy should be enough for Hong Kong, but a well-educated and well-traveled generation of young Hong Kongers wants more. They have always enjoyed Western-style freedoms and want the political enfranchisement that comes with it. They feel little in common with mainland Chinese and want Hong Kong to become politically autonomous — almost independent. These are the people at the forefront of the Umbrella Revolution.

5. Does everyone in Hong Kong support this movement?

No. Many, especially the older generation, are actively opposed to it because they are afraid of antagonizing China. They remember the bloody suppression of the Tiananmen uprising in Beijing in 1989, and point to the currently harsh political climate in China, and conclude that Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution is doomed. They argue that, by challenging the party, the students are only inviting Beijing to withdraw the freedoms that Hong Kong does have.

The older generation is also more concerned about economic stability. It’s already hard enough to make a living in hyper-expensive Hong Kong, they say, without sit-ins bringing the city to a halt, and all in the name of a cause that has no hope of winning anyway.

6. What happens next?

Nobody is really sure. But whether the current occupations end peacefully, with a student withdrawal, or violently, with riot police sent in, one thing is certain: Hong Kong’s democratic movement is only just getting started. It will come out of this with greater skills and experience and it will have groomed young leaders who know how to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people, and who know how to put across their cause in international media. For the party bosses in Beijing, that’s a big headache. Watch this space.

TIME Japan

Three U.S. Airmen Missing After Typhoon Hits Okinawa

JAPAN-VOLCANO-MISSING-TYPHOON-WEATHER
AFP/Getty Images This NASA satellite image shows Typhoon Phanfone in the western Pacific Ocean on Oct. 3, 2014.

One body was found, the coastguard said

Update: Oct. 6, 6:19 a.m. ET

A powerful typhoon lashed southern Japan on Sunday, churning up high waves that washed three American airmen out to sea and killed at least one before taking aim at Tokyo. Elsewhere in the Pacific, a separate typhoon whipped the Mariana Islands, including Guam, with high winds and heavy rain.

By late Sunday, Typhoon Phanfone was off the coast of Shikoku in southwestern Japan, with winds of up to 144 kilometers (90 miles) per hour after hitting the regions of Okinawa and Kyushu, Japan’s Meteorological Agency said…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Israel

Israeli Prime Minister: ISIS and Nuclear Iran Are ‘Twin Challenges’

Barack Obama Meets with PM Netanyahu of Israel
Olivier Douliery—Corbis Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in the Oval Office of the White House on Oct. 1, 2014 in Washington, DC.

"They all want to get rid of Israel on their way to the Great Satan"

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed support for President Barack Obama’s goal of defeating ISIS but said curbing Iran’s nuclear program is also top priority during a recent interview.

Netanyahu told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in a segment airing Sunday that while ISIS is “growing by day,” its power lies not in its numbers, but in “the strength of terror and fear.” Natanyahu reaffirmed previous remarks to the United Nations that “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas” and said that he would never negotiate with Hamas as long as it “remains committed to [Israel’s] destruction.”

In addition to combatting ISIS, Netanyahu said Israel and other moderate Arab states see Iran’s nuclear program as a “twin” challenge that goes hand-in-hand with stopping the spread of radical Islam.

“They all want to get rid of Israel on their way to the Great Satan,” he said. “We’re just the little Satan. The Great Satan is the United States.”

Netanyahu said the biggest security threat in the Middle East is not border disputes but “what lies on the other side,” saying that militant Islam is “walking into the cracks” of Middle Eastern states and citing Hamas and Hezbollah presence in Gaza and Lebanon, respectively, as examples.

The prime minister said that he trusts Obama “to do what is important for the United States” but that “the jury is out on all of us” to combat these threats.

“We’re going to be tested, all of us,” Netanyahu said. “Ultimately, it’s not what we intended to do, it’s what we end up doing, especially what we end up preventing.”

Netanyahu also reaffirmed his hope for a two-state solution with Israelis and Palestinians after a summer of violent conflict between the Israeli military and Hamas forces in Gaza that saw more than 2,000 Palestinians killed.

“I remain committed to a vision of peace, of two states for two peoples, two nation-states, one for the Palestinian people, one for the Jewish people living in mutual recognition with solid security arrangements on the ground to defend Israel, to keep the peace and to defend Israel in case the peace unravels,” he said.

TIME Hong Kong

Global Support for Hong Kong Student Protest Intensifies

HONG KONG-CHINA-POLITICS-DEMOCRACY
Philippe Lopez—AFP/Getty Images Support messages from citizens of various countries are seen near a gathering point of pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong on Oct. 2, 2014

Hollywood celebrities, political figures and international support groups are standing behind the city's Occupy movement

The world has been watching Hong Kong.

As tens of thousands of protesters convened in Hong Kong’s Central district on Saturday night, hoisting up umbrellas and lifting illuminated cellphones into a nebula of white light, projected messages of support from around the world floated bright and high on a wall above them.

“Even though we are 13 hours away, I am following you every second,” read one message, from a supporter in Panama. That note flickered above yet another wall plastered in thousands of multilingual Post-it notes from well-wishers.

“You are not alone,” read one note, in English. “Democracy is universal. No democracy, no freedom,” read another, from “a French girl in Hong Kong” who squeezed in her country’s national motto at the bottom: “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.”

The beamed-up messages and Post-it notes appeared emblematic of accumulating international support for Hong Kong’s protesters, as the sit-ins in this hub of global commerce extend into a second week and as worldwide fascination with the protesters sleeping in the streets widens.

Hong Kong protesters are well aware they are in the spotlight. At Saturday night’s huge rally, in Admiralty, one speaker turned to the international press pack and addressed them in English, saying that their presence gave protection to the students, who have now been issued an ultimatum to leave the streets by Monday. “Thank you for coming,” he said to the assembled journalists. “And for those of you who haven’t been here before — welcome to Hong Kong!” The crowd, blinking with camera flashes, roared.

The rally on Saturday night seemed to be the largest so far — but it was also perhaps the most emotional. Reactionary mobs had spent the previous day and night attacking smaller student encampments at Mong Kok, across Victoria Harbor, and in Causeway Bay. There were also rumors that the Admiralty occupation was to be forcibly suppressed that night.

Reassurance came from global support groups, who have staged rallies around the world on behalf of the protesters. Over the weekend, they reaffirmed their support for the demonstrators on Facebook and Twitter.

“We are dismayed by and furious with the intimidation of people who support the cause for Democracy in Hong Kong,” wrote United for Democracy: Global Solidarity With Hong Kong on its Facebook page Saturday, referring to the violence in Mong Kok, as well as to what it said were reports of violence on some of the global marches. The group last week organized support rallies in 26 cities worldwide.

Global celebrities, including Mia Farrow and George Takei, have also made high-profile appeals of support for the protesters on social media, the Los Angeles Times reports

Several major local actors, including Hong Kong superstar Chow Yun-fat, of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame, have also weighed in on behalf of Hong Kong’s young demonstrators.

“I’ve met the residents, the students — they are very brave and it’s touching to see that they’re fighting for what they want,” Chow told Apple Daily, a local newspaper, on Wednesday.

Anthony Wong, a top-billing Hong Kong actor, also told protesters over a broadcast phone conversation on Saturday night that “what we are fighting for is not just democracy but also to protect our values.”

Meanwhile, global leaders and officials, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have toughened their tone on China, calling on Beijing to ensure democratic freedoms and end the unrest. Merkel is due to take part in a German-Chinese government summit in Berlin in just a week.

Several former U.S. consuls general to Hong Kong on Saturday night wrote an open letter to the city’s embattled leader Leung Chun-ying, calling on him to “work out a road map with the Hong Kong people that shows clear progress toward the goals enunciated in the Basic Law: universal suffrage, a broadly representative nomination and democratic procedures.”

“We are writing to you based on decades of inestimable interest and admiration for Hong Kong,” wrote the former officials. “We have loved the city, admired its citizens and promoted its vital role for business, culture and commerce for Asia and for China.”

Still, the White House, which answered a petition supporting the protesters with an unambiguous endorsement of their calls for fair elections, has been criticized for not leaning hard enough on Beijing over the lack of democracy in both Hong Kong and China.

David Shambaugh, director of the China policy program at the George Washington University, told the New York Times that China was going through its most repressive period in 25 years. “The administration isn’t speaking out about that,” he said.

TIME Hong Kong

WATCH: Hong Kong Protest Leaders Urge Reform, Not Revolution

"This is not a color revolution," Occupy Central leader Benny Tai declared to an emotional crowd, tens of thousands strong, in Hong Kong on Saturday night, local time. He said the movement was, instead, a demand for free and fair elections. Student leader Joshua Wong also rallied the crowd, who face an ultimatum to leave the streets by Monday.

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