Nearly Two Million Take to Hong Kong's Streets in Peaceful Anti-Extradition Protest

2019-08-18
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Protesters stand on Harcourt Road overlooking the Legislative Council during a rally in Hong Kong, in the latest opposition to a planned extradition law that has since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city, August 18, 2019.
Protesters stand on Harcourt Road overlooking the Legislative Council during a rally in Hong Kong, in the latest opposition to a planned extradition law that has since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city, August 18, 2019.
AFP

More than a million people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday in another mass protest against plans to allow extradition to mainland China, organizers said.

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!"

Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations were also packed with crowds, according to live video streams, as tens of thousands more people tried to join the rally.

Rally organizers the Civil Human Rights Front said an estimated 1.7 million people turned out. The group also hit out a police decision to ban a full march from the park, saying that many more people were prevented from attending owing to the "unreasonable restrictions" imposed by police.

Group convenor Jimmy Sham said the march was about sending a strong message to the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam that the majority of people in Hong Kong favored peaceful and rational protest as a way to make their views known.

"Today, we wanted to tell Carrie Lam that Hong Kong people can do peaceful, rational and non-violent protest as well as put up a brave resistance," Sham said. "Today was all about the peaceful part, and asking for a response from Lam to our five demands."

The anti-extradition protests that have gripped the city 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.

"Lam has continued to hide behind the police, and to use their violence as a way to suppress the demands of the people of Hong Kong," Sham said.

He said some protesters had only resorted to violence because Lam's administration has been ignoring peaceful demonstrations.

Civil disobedience

Cantopop star Denise Ho told the rally that the marchers had only set off from the park to ease the sheer pressure of the crowd.

"The police told us that we couldn't march, and that we'd have to do something else, and not leave Victoria Park," Ho said. "But there were just too many people today, so that's why everyone took to the streets."

"This kind of civil disobedience has persisted over several months in Hong Kong in spite of the authorities' attempt to extinguish it using everything they've got," she said. "They tried to make people too scared to come out, but it didn't work."

"Hong Kong people are still incredibly united, to the point where they come out even in this heavy downpour," Ho said.

A protester surnamed Cheung said the two most important demands for her were fully democratic elections to the city's Legislative Council (LegCo) and for the chief executive.

"I feel that our freedoms are being stripped away, and that the police ... won't even let us come out in protest over that," Cheung said.

"It's unreasonable to talk about supporting peaceful methods of protest if things have gotten to the point where we can't even go on a peaceful march."

A highschooler surnamed Lok said he hopes that the city's young people will boycott class come September, an idea that was shown to have widespread support in a recent poll of nearly 20,000 student.

"We want our school to respond positively to the five major demands ... as well as committing to provide support for all arrested students," Lok said.

Muted police presence

Police presence was muted for most of the day, with a noticeable absence of riot police, tear gas or rubber bullets, even when protesters spilled out onto Harcourt Road, a key site in the 2014 democracy movement after night fell.

Across the harbor in Kowloon's Mong Kok district, a group of protesters gathered outside the local police station, shouting angry slogans, flashing laser pointers and throwing eggs, but left shortly before a group of riot police showed up to clear some barricades on Nathan Road.

Former 2014 student leader Joshua Wong posted video to Twitter which showed a group of around 15 people clad in the black clothes that have marked out anti-extradition protesters in recent weeks, filing into a police station at the end of the protests at around midnight on Sunday.

"Lots of undercover officials that dress up & pretend as protesters with black t-shirt," Wong wrote via his Twitter account. "They were spotted by citizens when they went back to the Police Headquarter in the midnight."

The government said some "breaches of the peace" had occurred in spite of the majority of protesters behaving in a peaceful manner.

"A large number of protesters rushed to the roads and occupied the carriageways of Causeway Road and Hennessy Road after leaving the public meeting venue," it said in a statement after the rally.

Protesters also blocked roads in Western and Central districts, Admiralty, Wanchai, Causeway Bay and Tin Hau.

In response to public anger over police violence, the statement said that the police had exercised restraint, tolerance and patience.

"Only when there were violent acts or illegal behaviors which endangered the safety of people at scene, police would stop them by proportionate use of force," saying the public was being "unfair" to the police force.

Reported by Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Wang Yun for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Comments (4)
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Anonymous Reader

Canada must deport 2,000,000 red Chinese back to China and keeps only Meng Wanzhou but sends her to prison from her house.

Aug 26, 2019 04:50 PM

Wangchuk

The PRC promised Hong Kong 50 years of democracy/autonomy but reneged on the deal. If Beijing won't keep its promises under the law then why shouldn't Hongkongers not protest on the streets. Hong Kong has the right of free speech & self-determination & Beijing can't stop the people of Hong Kong.

Aug 20, 2019 02:21 PM

Anonymous Reader

China promised Hong Kong one country, two systems but no western style democracy where any Tom, Dick and Harry can stand for election as the Chief Executive. There was no promise of self-determination either and the one country, two systems will end in 2047 and it is unlikely to be extended. That ought to give the protesters ample time to quit Hong Kong and move in with their former white colonial master in the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. By the way, it was reported that 300,000 Canadians are working and or living in Hong Kong where there is supposedly no freedom and democracy a la Canada. If Canada or the West is that great why come back to Hong Kong? By right, the Hong Kong government should ban former Hong Kong citizens who now carry foreign passports from working in Hong Kong.

Aug 21, 2019 03:35 AM

Anonymous Reader

Peace-loving people in the world, please chack this post made by a red Chinese. No-one can think differently from the Chinese Commie party. People of Hongkong want peace, liberty and freedom. They don't want dictatorship, they want to be FREE.

Aug 19, 2019 05:37 PM

Anonymous Reader

How come when the British were running Hong Kong as a colony you never wanted democracy and freedom?

Aug 20, 2019 11:23 AM

Anonymous Reader

By the way what is chack? Idiots with poor vocabulary shouldn't be posting in an English language forum.

Aug 20, 2019 11:25 AM

Anonymous Reader

Because people of Hongkong were better off than they are now.

Aug 20, 2019 01:06 PM

Anonymous Reader

Really? They were better off then than they are now? Then can you explain why there are 300,000 former Hong Kong citizens holding Canadian passports reportedly working and living in Hong Kong? Why come back to Hong Kong and not stay in Canada where there is freedom, democracy and stuff that is not available in Hong Kong, you white worshipper?

Aug 21, 2019 03:48 AM

Anonymous Reader

After Hongkong was returned to China it was one country-two system policy. Now Red China wants to make Hongkong people their slaves. By the way, how many Chinese work in live in Canada ?

Aug 21, 2019 12:04 PM

Anonymous Reader

Peaceful Anti-Extradition Protest??? LOLLOLLOL Peaceful my foot! They are worried about the PLA rolling into Hong Kong with a big stick, that's why they are peaceful for the time being. I am waiting for the hour when the PLA comes trundling into Hong Kong in their vehicles and using their big sticks on the idiotic protesters. I am getting ready my stock of pop corn and watch the slaughter on my TV and hopefully I can watch it live.

Aug 19, 2019 03:17 AM

Anonymous Reader

Sorry sir. Check.

Aug 20, 2019 01:03 PM

Anonymous Reader

What ? White worshippers ? Don't go to fast Sir. What about Marx and Lennin ?

Aug 23, 2019 01:58 AM

Anonymous Reader

2,000,000 ( officially ) red Chinese live and work in Canada.

Aug 23, 2019 09:12 AM

Anonymous Reader

By right Canada should ban 2,000,000 red Chinese living in Canada.

Aug 23, 2019 03:11 PM

Anonymous Reader

Two million Chinese from China working in Canada? If there are that many jobs in Canada the 300,000 Kong chan wouldn't go back to Hong Kong. LOLLOLLOL By the way let Justin Trudeau the American dog know of this fake figure that existed in your imagination and get Trudeau to do something about it.LOLLOLLOL

Aug 24, 2019 02:56 AM

Anonymous Reader

What about sending 2,000,000 red Chinese back to China from Canada huh ?

Aug 26, 2019 04:39 PM

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