Hong Kong protesters are hoping to get out huge crowds later on Sunday as they try to keep pressure on the city’s pro-Beijing leadership six months into their movement pushing for greater freedoms and police accountability.
The last fortnight has seen a marked drop in street battles and protester vandalism after pro-democracy candidates won a landslide in local council elections, shattering government claims that a “silent majority” opposed the movement.
The semi-autonomous financial hub has been battered by the often violent demonstrations pushing for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability in the starkest challenge the city has presented to Beijing since its 1997 handover.
Organizers have billed it as a “last chance” for Lam to meet their demands which include an independent inquiry into the police’s handling of the protests, an amnesty for those arrested, and fully free elections.
Hong Kong’s protests are largely leaderless and organised online. They were initially sparked by a now abandoned attempt to allow extraditions to the mainland but have since morphed into a popular revolt against Beijing’s rule.
Sunday afternoon’s march will follow a well-worn route on the main island from Victoria Park to the heart of the commercial district.
It comes a day before the city marks the six month anniversary of the protest movement in which some 6,000 people have been arrested and hundreds injured, including police.
Earlier in the month, the city’s embattled leader Carrie Lam lost ranks with China and condemned the US Senate’s passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which she lambasted as unnecessary and unjustified.
In November, China had accused UK human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet of “inappropriate” interference in the country’s affairs, after she called for investigations into alleged excessive use of force by police in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s protests started nearly six months ago in June against proposals to allow extradition to mainland China, a move many feared would undermine the city’s judicial independence and endanger dissidents.
In 2018, the Hong Kong government had disqualified the candidacy of another pro-democracy activist, Agnes Chow, for the Legislative Council by-election in March of the same year due to her stance on advocating self-determination for the former British colony.
The controversial China extradition bill was withdrawn in early September but the movement has morphed into a wider campaign for greater democracy and against alleged police brutality.
(With inputs from AFP)