Thousands rally for Human Rights Day in Hong Kong

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Protesters march for human rights in Hong Kong. Photo: REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui.

Hong Kong – Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Hong Kong Island Sunday for a Human Rights Day march, the first major anti-government protest to be sanctioned by police in months.

Black-clad demonstrators of all ages called attention to the unmet demands of the Hong Kong protests that have rocked the city for several months. 

The march coincided with the six-month mark since over 1 million people first took to the streets against a now-defunct bill that would have allowed Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to mainland China.  

It is the first major demonstration since the pro-democracy camp won a landslide victory in district council elections at the end of last month.

The march remained peaceful during the day, with riot police and water cannons on standby nearby.

As night fell, tensions rose in Causeway Bay, near where the march began, and near its end in Central, as front-line protesters in full gear strayed from the approved route to set up makeshift barricades on adjacent streets.

Police stated via Facebook that some “violent protesters” vandalised banks and shops in Causeway Bay and the nearby district Wan Chai.

Demonstrators adopted creative means of expression; some played the protest anthem “Glory to Hong Kong” on the violin and ukulele, while dozens of employees from a local radio station donned eclectic, homemade masks depicting frogs and pigs – both icons of the Hong Kong protests. 

A masked protester named Brian Lai attributed the jubilant mood at the march to the elections, calling the outcome “a step towards democratic progress and a big cheer for protesters.” 

However, a female protester called Chan said that she did not feel optimistic because there had been “no structural change within the government.” 

Chan said that sanctions legislation like the US Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act is the only way to push for real change.

“We do not have the authority to push them to listen to what we want, but … other countries can definitely impact Beijing or the presidency’s actions,” she said. 

Earlier in the day, Hong Kong police arrested 11 people for “possession of a firearm without a licence.” It was the first time police had alleged that an illegal firearm was confiscated for intended use in a protest. 

A Glock pistol and more than 100 bullets were seized during the operation. Organized crime and triad senior superintendent Li Kwai-wah said that two bulletproof vests, daggers, sabres, batons and pepper spray were also found. 

The former British colony has been governed semi-autonomously since its return to China in 1997 on the principle of “one country, two systems.”

It enjoys much greater freedoms than mainland China, but Hong Kong residents feel these are increasingly being eroded by the Communist government in Beijing.

 

# Notebook

## Note to editors – updates to “hundreds of thousands” – and hrs long status – ads tension with police – remains peaceful

* * * * The following information is not intended for publication

## Editorial contacts – Reporting by: Viola Gaskell in Hong Kong – Editing by: Ivonne Marschall – Tel: +49 30 2852 31472;
@dpa.com>

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