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Hong Kong Protesters Try to Keep Momentum With Weekend Protests

HONG KONG — Protesters marched in the streets of Hong Kong again on Sunday, the latest effort to spread their movement across the semiautonomous Chinese territory and the first major test of public sentiment since the city’s embattled leader announced that an unpopular bill was “dead” but stopped short of withdrawing it.

Dark rain clouds loomed as tens of thousands of protesters marched through the Sha Tin area of the New Territories, a region of Hong Kong near the border with mainland China, and shouted slogans like “The police knowingly broke the law” and “Fight on, Hong Kong.”

In the late afternoon, scuffles broke out as police officers wielding shields and batons deployed pepper spray against a small group of protesters, some of whom pelted the officers with plastic bottles and traffic cones.

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CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

As the sky darkened, a tense standoff formed between protesters and police officers in riot gear separated by about 200 feet. Around 7 p.m., the pro-democracy lawmaker Ted Hui and several local officials from Sha Tin sat cross-legged in the middle of the road between the officers and the protesters and demanded to speak with the police commander.

The demonstration in Sha Tin came one day after clashes broke out between police officers and protesters in a Hong Kong border town.

The protest on Saturday concerned so-called parallel traders who come across the border from the mainland to buy items like baby formula and diapers for resale in China — hurting consumers in Hong Kong, critics of the practice say. Two protesters were arrested on charges including unlawful assembly.

CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

On Sunday morning, before the demonstration in Sha Tin began, hundreds of people also participated in a silent march organized by several local journalism associations in the city’s financial district to protest what they say was the excessive use of force by police officers against members of the news media during previous demonstrations.

Hong Kong has been rocked by a wave of mass demonstrations since early June following public uproar over a contentious piece of legislation that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. Though Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, suspended the bill, she has refused to formally retract it, a decision that has set off the biggest political crisis in the former British colony since it was returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

The complete withdrawal of the extradition bill is one of the protesters’ five main demands, along with universal suffrage, the retraction of the government’s characterization of a protest on June 12 as a “riot,” the unconditional release of all protesters arrested, and an independent inquiry into police violence against protesters.

CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

But Mrs. Lam has shown little willingness to meet the protesters’ demands, and both sides now appear to be dug in for what many expect will be a summer of unrest in the city.

“This has become an issue of political structure,” said Ivan Choy, a senior lecturer in government at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“The younger people cannot find a way to change the political situation of Hong Kong and master their own future,” Mr. Choy said. “So they have to come out and go to the streets or use even more confrontational methods to force the government to pay more attention to their opinion.”

CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Protesters on Sunday added two local issues to the five main demands, calling for an end to the politically motivated disqualification of candidates for elected office and more open discussion of the extradition bill at the district level.

But they differed as to their top priorities. Horus Leung and Matthew Lee, both university students, were most concerned about the rough treatment of protesters by the police.

“The police used to serve the citizens, but now they’ve become a political tool in oppressing protesters’ voices,” said Mr. Leung, 18. “They are no longer neutral.”

CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

Mr. Lee said that while he was tired after attending a number of protests in recent weeks, it was imperative to keep the momentum going.

“If we don’t stand up now, we won’t have a chance later,” he said. “We have no choice — this is our home and there’s nowhere else for us to go.”

Others said they would not be satisfied until all of the protesters’ demands were met.

“Not one of our five demands can be missing,” said Ip Cheun-mui, 64, a house cleaner and longtime resident of Sha Tin, “or else we will keep coming out.”

The march in Sha Tin on Sunday was the latest attempt by protesters to get out their message and sustain momentum for the movement. Last week, tens of thousands of protesters turned out for a demonstration in Kowloon, a region of Hong Kong across the harbor from the financial district where most of the protests took place last month. It was the first major action after the dramatic storming of the city’s legislative building by a small group of protesters this month.

Unlike the pro-democracy protests that swept through Hong Kong in 2014, the recent demonstrations have been notable for their largely leaderless nature. Many of the recent marches and gatherings have been organized through online forums and the Telegram messaging app.

The movement has also adopted decidedly low-tech messaging strategies in the form of thousands of colorful sticky notes mostly expressing support for the protesters and their demands. These so-called Lennon Walls, named after a memorial in Prague dedicated to the singer John Lennon, have been popping up around the city over the last few weeks. But in recent days, scuffles have broken out in various places after some people tried to rip down the displays.

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