HUNDREDS of thousands of umbrella-carrying protesters rallied in the streets of Hong Kong to chant anti-government slogans.
During the huge show of force, the words ‘SS Nazi = HK Police’ were daubed on walls across the city after weeks of violent clashes in the former British colony.
It’s estimated around 1.7 million protesters took part in the march[/caption]
During the huge show of force, the words ‘SS Nazi = HK Police’ were daubed on walls across the city[/caption]
Sunday’s pro-democracy demonstration stayed peaceful, with organisers estimating that at least 1.7 million people took part in the marches.
However, it was the calmest weekend protest since the latest demonstrations against perceived creeping Beijing influence in the former British colony began.
“They’ve been telling everyone we’re rioters. The march today is to show everyone we are not,” said a 23-year-old named Chris, who works in marketing and was dressed all in black, including a scarf covering his face and baseball cap.
“It does not mean we won’t keep fighting. We will do whatever is necessary to win, but today we take a break, then we reassess.”
One protester shouted at others who were jeering at police, “Today is a peaceful march! Don’t fall into the trap! The world is watching us,” prompting the group to move on.
Late in the evening, some demonstrators were urging others to go home and rest.
Anger erupted in June over a now-suspended bill that would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China.
Hong Kong handover
Hong Kong became a British colony with the end of the First Opium War in 1842.
The British fought the war to preserve the right of the East India Company to sell opium into mainland China.
The establishment of the colony gave Britain control over a number of ports to which foreign merchants could deliver goods.
Britain obtained a 99-year lease for the territory in 1898, and relinquished control when that lease expired in 1997.
Hong Kong now operates as a semi-autonomous territory, with control over its own trade, tax, and immigration policy.
Under the terms of the 1997 handover, that status is protected until 2047.
What happens after then is currently undecided, but opponents of the Beijing government fear that China will seek to gain control of the territory.
However, the unrest has been fuelled by broader worries about the erosion of freedoms guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” formula put in place after Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule in 1997, including an independent judiciary and right to protest.
The protests present one of the biggest challenges for Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012, with the ruling Communist Party preparing to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic on Oct. 1.
Protesters held aloft placards with slogans including ‘Free Hong Kong!’ and ‘Democracy now!’ and umbrellas to shield them from the sometimes heavy rain.
Some aimed green lasers at police and government buildings.
The crowd in Causeway Bay’s leafy Victoria Park, where the rally started, included elderly people and young families, with some parents carrying toddlers.
Despite rally organisers not having permission to march, the park could not accommodate the crowd, which thronged nearby streets.
Many protesters headed towards Hong Kong’s financial centre, chanting for the city’s Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, to step down.
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Police estimated there were 128,000 people in Victoria Park at the height of the protest.
“It’s bloody hot and it’s raining. It’s a torture just to turn up, frankly. But we have to be here because we have no other choice,” said a 24-year-old student named Jonathan.
“We have to continue until the government finally shows us the respect that we deserve.”
A government spokesman said the protests were generally peaceful, but they had disrupted traffic badly.
It was the calmest weekend protest since the latest round of demonstrations began[/caption]
Those that joined the massive protest chanted anti-government slogans[/caption]
The protests present one of the biggest challenges for President Xi Jinping since he came to power[/caption]
Protesters held aloft placards with slogans including ‘Free Hong Kong!’[/caption]
Some protesters aimed green lasers at police and government buildings[/caption]