A sea of people in black braved heavy rain on Sunday to flood the streets of Hong Kong for a peaceful demonstration which showed that they still have wide public support despite outbreaks of violence and increasingly stark warnings from Beijing. It concluded a weekend of peaceful gatherings and protests that saw no tear gas used by police for the first time in 11 weeks.
Sunday’s protest drew more than 1.7 million people, according to its organiser, the Civil Human Rights Front. Police said the approved rally in the park reached an estimated 128,000 people, not including those packed into the many surrounding streets.
Although the Front had to confine Sunday’s event to a rally in Victoria Park as police had banned a march, citing safety concerns, the umbrella-carrying protesters moved from Victoria Park to different districts on Hong Kong Island due to the massive turnout.
More extradition bill protests have been planned for this week. There will be a non-cooperation movement at the MTR on Wednesday, with the locations yet to be confirmed as of 2pm yesterday.
Organisers said if the government does not respond to their demands before September 2, they might consider staging non-cooperation acts every week or even every day.
On Thursday, Hong Kong secondary school students will stage a rally at Edinburgh Place, in Central, from 3pm-7pm. The rally’s theme is: “They have NO STAKE in society, but we are the future of Hong Kong”.
Organisers said the rally would be peaceful and there would be student forums and a Lennon Wall at the venue. A letter of no objection had not been granted by the police as of 2pm yesterday.
On Friday, accountants are due to take part in a demonstration organised by Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong, a leading tax adviser in Hong Kong. The march will start at 12.30pm at Chater Garden and end at Government Headquarters. The organiser is still awaiting a letter of no objection from the police.
On the same day, there will be another rally involving Christians at Chater Garden from 7pm to 9pm.
On Monday, a group of Hong Kong residents held their fifth citizens’ press conference titled “The Onslaught on Civil Rights” to urge the police to explain their repeated refusals to grant letters of no objection for recent demonstration applications, and whether these restrictions are a form of political oppression.
The pro-democracy camp also spoke to the press on Monday, urging Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to respond to people’s demands.
“Even with the heavy rainstorms, people from all walks of life still chose to come out and protest. I’m sure this scene has moved many of us. The demonstration has not only shown Hongkongers’ unity, but our strong determination to demand a response from Carrie Lam to our five demands,” said lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung. “And yet, right after the rally, the government released a statement that many would find ludicrous and even despicable.”
A government spokesman described the rally as “generally peaceful”on Sunday, and pointed out that the demonstrators had occupied main roads, causing traffic jams and disruption.
“The most important thing currently is to restore social order as soon as possible. The government will begin a sincere dialogue with the public, mend social rifts and rebuild social harmony when everything has calmed down,” the government spokesman said.