In one of the biggest rallies for weeks in Hong Kong, many people have once again taken to the streets to protest against the city government. The number of participants reminded on Sunday of earlier marches in the summer, which estimated that hundreds of thousands and even more than one million people had participated.
Mostly in black dressed and partly masked demonstrators gathered in the afternoon at the Victoria Park in the center of Hong Kong. From there, the train set off in the direction of the business district of the financial metropolis. As night fell, many demonstrators switched on the flashlight function of their smartphones, resulting in the image of a kilometer-long carpet of lights.
According to local media, organizers of the protest march spoke of 800,000 protesters on Sunday, and the police estimated the number of participants at 183,000.
Many participants expressed their anger at the fact that even after the overwhelming victory of the democracy movement in the local elections at the end of November, head of government Lam did not make any concessions to the demonstrators. "No matter how we express our point of view, through peaceful demonstrations, through civilized elections – the government is not listening," said a 50-year-old protester named Wong. "It only follows the orders of the Chinese Communist Party."
"One country, two systems"
Six months ago, the protests were triggered by a bill that would have allowed deliveries to mainland China for the first time. Meanwhile, the movement is also directed against the increasing influence of China's authoritarian communist leadership. Many Hong Kong residents fear that Beijing may gradually restrict their rights.
Since its return to China in 1997, the former British Crown Colony is governed autonomously under Chinese sovereignty under the principle of "one country, two systems". The Hong Kong people enjoy – unlike the people in the People's Republic – many rights such as freedom of assembly and expression.
Pro-democratic demonstrators on Sunday in Hong Kong
The rally is the first major demo since mid-August that has been approved by the police. However, the security forces announced that they would not tolerate violence by the demonstrators. The CHRF, which had registered the demonstration, stands for non-violent protest.
Again and again violence
In the course of the protests, however, there were repeated violent clashes between protesters and the police. Since the victory of the democracy movement in the local elections, the violent riots have decreased.
The demonstrators called on Sunday the well-known protest slogan "Freedom for Hong Kong" and carried signs with their demands. The huge participation makes it clear that even half a year after the protests started on June 9, large parts of the Hong Kong population are still behind the movement.
The protest movement wants Hong Kong's head of government to be elected in future in truly democratic elections and not be decisively determined by Beijing. In addition, the demonstrators want the police violence they denounced to be investigated during the protests.