First pro-democracy march since Occupy Central had lower turnout than expected

First pro-democracy march since Occupy Central had lower turnout than expected

First pro-democracy march since Occupy fell short of expectations

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Thousands of pro-democracy protesters hold up yellow umbrellas to show their supoort, but the number was a lot lower than organisers expected.
Thousands of pro-democracy protesters hold up yellow umbrellas to show their supoort, but the number was a lot lower than organisers expected.
Photo: Reuters

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets on Sunday for the first time since the mass protests of Occupy Central shut down parts of the city for more than two months last year.

They carried yellow umbrellas - the symbol of the campaign - and shouted slogans for "true universal suffrage" while they walked from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to the Chater Road pedestrian precinct in Central.

Fewer people turned up than expected. According to organisers, 13,000 attended the demonstration - just over a quarter of the 50,000 that they had hoped for. "Today's protest wasn't a small one. It was smaller than we expected, but it's wrong to say Hongkongers have given in to fake democracy," said organiser Daisy Chan.

Police said up to 8,800 people had joined the march, just a fraction of the tens of thousands who gathered at the peak of the Occupy protests. Occupy leaders say they do not plan to reoccupy the streets in the near future.

"If others want to do it, they will have to do it themselves," said student leader Alex Chow Yong-kang.

The founders of the pro-democracy movement including Benny Tai Yiu-ting, Joshua Wong Chi-fung and other student leaders, urged residents to keep fighting as they joined Sunday's rally.

"If we don't dream, we don't have hope. We should persist then we will succeed," said Tai, who said that protesters may need "rest" after Occupy Central.

Wong warned against accepting universal suffrage within the restrictions of Beijing's framework.

"I hope people understand that if we take that now, it will be forever," he said.

Hong Kong's government is urging the public to support Beijing's electoral plan, which needs the backing of two-thirds of the legislature to be passed.

Lam Woon-kwong, convenor of the Executive Council, warned campaigners to accept Beijing's offer. "You can't threaten the central authorities," he said. "If we can have consensus to have universal suffrage in 2017 first and democratise further later, it would be a more pragmatic approach."

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Umbrellas back up, but numbers down

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