TIME Hong Kong

‘I Absolutely Will Not Back Down.’ Meet the Young People at the Heart of Hong Kong’s Rebellion

"It is scary to be on the front lines, but that’s not going to stop me from protecting the people behind me, from protecting Hong Kong. Even though I wasn’t born until after 1997, I can see with my own eyes that Hong Kong is sinking. It is moving backwards." — Ben, 20
Adam Ferguson for TIME "It is scary to be on the front lines, but that’s not going to stop me from protecting the people behind me, from protecting Hong Kong. Even though I wasn’t born until after 1997, I can see with my own eyes that Hong Kong is sinking. It is moving backwards." — Ben, 20

At 15 years old, Yannus is too young to drive a car, buy a beer or donate blood. But he says he is willing to give his life in the “final battle” for Hong Kong.

“Maybe I will die for this movement,” he says, at the edge of one of the pitched battles that demonstrations have frequently become over the past eight months. As protesters beside him pour Molotov cocktails, the teenager straps on a motorcycle helmet to hide his face from cameras and facial-recognition software. Like every protester TIME spoke with, Yannus gave a pseudonym out of concern for his safety. But in his pocket he keeps a handwritten will, addressed to his parents and friends. “I’m ready,” he says, tapping it.

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