Sunday's anti-extradition march in Hong Kong, which saw some 1.7 million people flood the city's streets in a mass protest against extradition to mainland China, was peaceful because police didn't use violence, protesters said at a news conference on Monday.
Wielding umbrellas against the heavy rain, protesters packed out the city's Victoria Park and spilled out to fill several major highways in the surrounding area, with many marching as far as government headquarters in spite of a police ban, raising the now-familiar chant of "Go Hongkongers!"
Public transit stations were also packed with crowds waiting to make it up to street level, with many protesters marching in the opposite direction, uncounted by observers, rally organizers the Civil Human Rights Front said.
Protesters on Monday hit out at police for issuing an objection letter to a mass protest march in the direction of government headquarters in Admiralty.
"The police were firmly opposed to the march on Sunday ... which meant that 1.7 million people were forced to gather in Victoria Park," a protester surnamed Wong told journalists in the fifth press conference given by the anti-extradition movement, which currently has no identifiable leaders.
"A large number of people who tried to come found a bottleneck, but they still continued to enter and exit the park in an orderly manner," Wong said. "This shows that violence doesn't take place [in the anti-extradition protests] unless it is provoked by the police."
Wong said the Hong Kong government has turned down nearly one-third of applications for public gatherings in the past two months, compared with less than one percent of applications in recent years.
"The government is not only failing to protect civil rights; it has turned the law that originally protected those rights into an apparatus that silences the voice of the public," Wong said.
Police on Monday declined to comment on whether they would also issue a notice of objection to a rally planned for Aug. 31.
Lam urged to meet with public
Pro-democracy politicians echoed the criticism of the police, saying the letter of objection effectively removed the right of Hong Kong citizens to take part in public protests.
Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki called on the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam to talk to protesters.
"Now is the time that Carrie Lam and her administration [should] come to meet with the public in whatever way she thinks appropriate," Kwok told journalists on Monday.
He hit out at a government statement complaining that Sunday's march had seriously affected traffic and caused inconvenience to the community, saying it was "total rubbish."
"Any sensible government that saw so many people peacefully taking to the streets would surely grab at the chance to communicate and solve the problem as soon as possible," Kwok said.
Meanwhile, authorities across the border in mainland China have been stepping up pressure on a prominent rights activist from Sichuan for his public support of the anti-extradition movement in Hong Kong.
"They don't come to me in person; they just contact my landlord and put pressure on him or her, or threaten them or their kids," Chen Yunfei told RFA.
"They want to drive me out of their administrative district," he said.
Chen has outspokenly defended the anti-extradition movement at a time when the ruling Chinese Communist Party is ramping up the nationalistic narrative that the Hong Kong protests are being carried out by a small minority of troublemakers in the pay of "hostile foreign forces."
Five key demands
Chen has called repeatedly for a dialogue between Lam and protesters to try to reach a resolution.
And in the southern province of Guangdong, rights activist Lai Rifu was recently summoned for questioning by police, who told him that posts he had made to Twitter were "outrageous."
Police tried to get him to hand over his pass for Hong Kong, but he refused.
"Then they proposed a compromise, which was to have me write a letter of guarantee to ensure that I do not travel ... to Hong Kong during this time," Lai said, adding that he had agreed to this after some consideration.
"The demonstrations in Hong Kong have been going on for more than two months now, and they are getting bigger and bigger," Lai said. "China has the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the [People's Republic] soon, so they want to maintain stability."
"Not only can we not go to Hong Kong; no online comments can be made on any platform that could have a negative impact," Lai said.
The anti-extradition protests that have gripped Hong Kong since early June are making five key demands of Lam's administration: the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to laws that would allow extradition of alleged criminal suspects to face trial in Chinese courts; an amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as rioters; an independent inquiry into police abuse of power; and fully democratic elections.
Reported by Wen Yuqing and Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Gao Feng for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.