Saturday, July 1, 2017

Thousands march in Hong Kong to show dissent for Chinese rule

Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters have marched across Hong Kong to mark the 20th anniversary of its return to Chinese control with a high-profile show of dissent. China’s president Xi Jinping, who had been in the former British colony on a three-day tour, flew out of Hong Kong just hours before the annual protest kicked off in Victoria Park on Saturday afternoon. 

But organisers said they remained determined to let Hong Kong’s political masters in Beijing know how they felt after two decades of Chinese rule.  “We know he has gone back to Beijing but we still want to show that they cannot ignore our voice,” said Howard Cheng, 28, one of the leaders of the group that organises the rally, the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF). “He came to Hong Kong but he didn’t want to hear the real voice of the Hong Kong people.”

Cheng accused Beijing of offering “fake democracy” to Hong Kong’s 7.3 million residents. “We are here to fight for democracy and universal suffrage.” Organisers said more than 60,000 people joined the 3km march, which has been held nearly every year since Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 .
Saturday’s rally, which will be followed by a massive pro-Beijing firework display celebrating the anniversary, kicked off at about 3.30pm local time. A column of protestors surged eastwards from the park towards Hong Kong’s financial centre, carrying flags, banners and yellow umbrellas – the symbol of 2014’s mass protests – stamped with the words: “Power to the people”. Many carried messages of dissent on black and white T-shirts emblazoned with slogans such as: “Never back down”, “fight for Hong Kong,” and, more poetically, “being born in uncertain times carries certain responsibilities.”

The protesters and their leaders said they hoped to use the anniversary of Britain’s departure to voice their disgust at Beijing’s refusal to grant them genuine democracy and its alleged erosion of their autonomy and freedoms. A series of political scandals - including the abduction of a group of local booksellers by mainland agents – have left many convinced that Beijing is preparing to take a harder line with those who question its rule over the former colony. “We are here to tell the truth that the 20th anniversary of handover is nothing to celebrate. We still don’t have democracy. We are here to tell the world that,” Nathan Law, a local pro-democracy legislator who was among those leading the rally, told the Guardian... read more:

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