Hong Kong: Thousands of people brave the ban on demonstrations


Police quoted Sunday's scuffles, among the worst since the start of the protest in June, to justify its decision to ban Saturday's protest.

However, this demonstration was convened by the Civilian Human Rights Front (FCHR), a non-violent organization that has been the cause of several rallies over the last few months, notably the demonstration of 18 August, which brought together 1,7 million people.

To circumvent the ban, calls have been made to organize religious gatherings on the island of Hong Kong, which do not require the same authorizations. And in the early afternoon, several thousand people were gathered in a stadium of Wanchai district.

In anticipation of clashes, the police erected new barriers around the Liaison Office, which includes branches of the Chinese central government in the former British colony. She also deployed water cannons.

"We expect people to be on the street," a senior police official told a news briefing.

Hong Kong has been experiencing its worst crisis for almost three months since its return to China in 1997, with almost daily actions. An unprecedented situation that authorities in the semi-autonomous region are struggling to meet.

This Saturday marked the fifth anniversary of Beijing's refusal to hold universal suffrage elections in Hong Kong. This decision triggered the 2014 Umbrella Movement, marked by 79 days of occupation of the financial and political heart of the city.

People are demonstrating under an umbrella.

A woman shows a poster of Carrie Lam, head of the Hong Kong Executive, during a demonstration on August 31, 2019.

Photo: AFP / Anthony Wallace

"We continue the fight"

Several figures of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement were arrested on Friday. Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, both 22 years old and popular in the current protests, were arrested for organizing a banned rally outside the Hong Kong Police Headquarters on June 21st.

Indicted on Friday, they were released on bail pending their next hearing on 8 November.

"We will continue the fight, we will not surrender," promised Mr. Wong, who has already spent five weeks in detention earlier this year for contempt of court.

"All we are asking the governments of Beijing and Hong Kong is to withdraw the extradition bill (the origin of the challenge, Ed), to put an end to police brutality and to hear our demand for free elections, "he said.

The founder of the Hong Kong National Party was also arrested on Friday. The authorities suspect him of involvement in riots and violence.

A fourth pro-democracy protester, Rick Hui, a member of Sha Tin District People's Council, was arrested on Friday, along with former student leader Althea Suen.

Amnesty International has condemned the arrests of Mr. Wong and Ms. Chow as "scandalous attacks on freedom of expression and assembly" and "tactics aimed at spreading fear straight out of Chinese textbooks".

Originally born in April from the rejection of a bill that would have allowed the extradition of suspects to mainland China, the protest movement has broadened to broader demands, including the protection of freedoms and freedom. autonomy enjoyed by the former British colony since its return to China in 1997.

Several Hong Kongers believe that the "one country, two systems" system is threatened by the growing influence of the Chinese central government.

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