STRENGTH: HK Protesters Defy Police
Hong Kong: Tens of thousands defy police ban and brave the rain to march in a show of strength
A spokesperson for China’s legislature condemned statements from US senators and Congress members supporting the pro-democracy protestors.
Water cannon trucks were kept on standby as pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong marched through the dense city centre after assembling at Victoria Park in Hong Kong on a rain-soaked Sunday afternoon, reported South China Morning Post.
The demonstrators filled the streets as there was not enough space at the park. The police approved the rally but objected to plans to march to the central district because of previous clashes that had occurred there. However, protestors defied the police instructions and marched anyway, reported The New York Times.
By mid-afternoon, the park was filled with tens of thousands of people. Protestors brought traffic on a multilane main road in the Causeway Bay shopping district to a halt. As the crowd inched toward the park, they shouted: “People of Hong Kong, keep fighting.”
Small crowds gathered outside the Legislative Council building. Harcourt Road, a key thoroughfare that passes by Hong Kong’s legislature, has been the site of multiple clashes between the police and the protestors since the anti-government protests began in June. As streams of protestors carrying umbrellas continued to march, some people unfurled a banner from a walkway that read: “We want democracy”, reported CNN.
— Thomas van Linge (@ThomasVLinge) August 18, 2019
#LIVE: The rally has taken over all playgrounds in Victoria Park. Police have apparently said the crowd will also need fill up the lawns before the surrounding streets are opened up https://t.co/TV3k1aFUp4 #HongKongProtests pic.twitter.com/Y7Ac5eZxJ6
— SCMP News (@SCMPNews) August 18, 2019
Earlier in the day, organisers said they hoped the march and the assembly at Victoria Park would be peaceful, marking a rare calm weekend during the movement that has often seen violent between protestors and the police. Last week, protestors twice forced the city’s airport to shut down.
“We hope that there will not be any chaotic situations today,” AP quoted organiser Bonnie Leung as saying. “We hope we can show the world that Hong Kong people can be totally peaceful.”
Leung’s group, the Civil Human Rights Front, has organised three big marches since June. “Peace is the number one priority today,” said Kiki Ma, a 28-year-old accountant participating in the protest. “We want to show that we aren’t like the government.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for China’s legislature condemned statements from US legislators supporting the protestors. You Wenze called the statements by senators and Congress representatives “a gross violation of the spirit of the rule of law, a blatant double standard and a gross interference in China’s internal affairs”.
A number of senators and Congress members, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have talked of the country’s commitment to human rights and urged Hong Kong’s government to end the standoff.
Last week, Beijing had claimed that criminals and agitators were stirring violence, encouraged by foreign powers such as Britain and the United States. On August 13, US President Donald Trump said the country’s intelligence agencies had informed him about the Chinese government moving soldiers to Hong Kong’s border.
The protests had initially been organised to oppose a bill that would have allowed extraditions to China. The protests have now evolved into a backlash against the city’s government and its political masters in Beijing.
The government has refused to accept any of the protestors’ main demands, which include a complete withdrawal of the extradition bill besides an independent inquiry into the use of excessive police force against the demonstrators. They are also demanding the resignation of the city’s leader Carrie Lam.