Mon, Oct 02, 2017 - Page 1 News List

HK advocates march on Chinese national day

AFP, HONG KONG

Demonstrators hold banners and placards as they take part in an annual protest march on China’s national day in Hong Kong yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Thousands of people yesterday took to the streets of Hong Kong to mark China’s national day with a pro-democracy rally and voice growing fears that the territory’s liberties are under threat from Beijing.

Emotions have been running high in the semi-autonomous territory since protests in 2014 calling for Beijing to grant fully free leadership elections.

However, the mass demonstrations, which blocked thoroughfares for 79 days and brought parts of the territory to a standstill, failed to achieve political reform.

Yesterday’s protest, dubbed an “anti-authoritarian rally,” follows the recent arrests of prominent pro-democracy activists, including a former lawmaker, that have renewed anti-China sentiment.

A number of other activists, including founding members of the 2014 campaign known as the “Umbrella movement,” are also facing charges and possible jail terms.

“Authoritarian rule has already become Hong Kong’s reality,” Benny Tai (戴耀廷), an organizer of the 2014 demonstrations, told protesters, who were mostly dressed in black.

“We are having today’s rally ... because we hope more Hong Kong people will see the true nature of the government,” Tai, a law professor, said.

Participants in the protest singled out Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥), Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen (袁國強) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), whose pictures were placed on placards saying “authoritarian clown.”

Others carried a black banner mimicking the Chinese national flag with five yellow stars drawn on it.

Police said 4,300 people had attended the rally, while reporters at the scene estimated about 5,000.

University student Vince Ho, 21, said the authorities’ hardline approach toward activists was likely to spur others into action.

Protesters were also seen carrying a banner saying “Hong Kong Independence” alongside a separatist Catalan “Estelada” flag.

The region of Catalonia is pushing for secession from Spain.

The face of the 2014 movement, Joshua Wong (黃之鋒), was sent to prison in August for his role in the initial demonstration along with fellow protest leaders Nathan Law (羅冠聰), a former lawmaker, and Alex Chow (周永康), after the Court of Appeal overturned previous non-custodial terms for the trio.

Protesters yesterday called for Yuen to resign.

Lam yesterday morning had urged for unity in her first national day speech since she became chief executive in July.

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