Hong Kong Protests: More Than 100,000 March Peacefully
More than 100,000 people are holding another day of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, amid increasingly severe warnings from the Beijing authorities.
Activists and police have clashed over the past 10 weeks, but this weekend’s rallies have so far been peaceful.
China, which has built up security forces in nearby Shenzhen, has likened the protests to terrorist activity.
The protest organisers, the Civil Rights Human Front, were denied authorisation for a march through the city, but police have allowed Sunday’s demonstration in Victoria Park.
The South China Morning Post newspaper tweeted a time lapse photo of the park filling up.
One of the marchers, named as Mr Wong, told the Reporters at the scene: “We have been fighting for more than two months, but our government has no response at all. We could just come out again and again.”
Large crowds also marched in the nearby areas of Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Wan Chai in defiance of the police ban.
Protesters seek to boost support
Heavy driving rain did not dissuade people of all ages from attending, filling Victoria Park then spilling out to occupy major roads in all directions.
Subway railway stations were forced to close after being clogged with protesters heading to the rally.
Though permission to march was not granted by the authorities, the sheer weight of numbers around the park has meant that activists had to move into Hong Kong’s streets spreading across eight lanes at a time.
After increasingly violent clashes in recent weeks there’s been a concerted effort to win back broad public support in the push for democratic reforms here by placing a greater focus on larger peaceful gatherings.
How have recent protests unfolded?
The violence has intensified in the past few weeks, and police have frequently fired tear gas and rubber bullets.
Last weekend activists occupied the airport, leading to hundreds of flights being cancelled. There were further clashes with police on Tuesday.
The turmoil has plunged one of Asia’s leading financial centres into crisis. Many businesses remained closed on Sunday, amid fears of further violence.
What is Beijing saying?
The Chinese government hardened its rhetoric following the airport unrest, condemning it as “behaviour that is close to terrorism”.
It was the second time in a week that Chinese officials have publicly likened the protests to terrorist activity.
Some observers believe that the repeated use of such language suggests that China is losing patience with the protesters and signals that an intervention by Beijing is increasingly likely.
Thousands of armed police have been stationed across the border in Shenzhen.
What is the movement about?
It was sparked by a bill that would allow extradition from Hong Kong the Chinese mainland.
Critics argue that the proposal would undermine the territory’s judicial independence and could be used to target those who speak out against the Chinese government.
The former British colony has a special status, with its own legal system and judiciary, and rights and freedoms not seen in mainland China.
The bill – announced by the government in February – was suspended following mass rallies in June. But the protesters want it withdrawn altogether.
They are also demanding democratic reform and an investigation into alleged police brutality.
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