Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong to mark Human Rights Day and press for greater democracy in the city. It was the the biggest rally in Hong Kong in about six months.
The protest walk began at Victoria Park and wound its way through the Central district. Protesters also clogged the main streets of the city hours after the protest walk began.
This was the first time in four months that an event organized by the Civil Human Rights Front has been given government approval in Hong Kong.
Earlier in the day police also arrested 11 people and uncovered an arms cache in a raid. Officers seized a semi-automatic pistol, bullet-proof jackets, retractable batons and pepper spray in the raid. Police suspect they would have been used by an “extreme” group of people trying to attack police.
More than six months of violent protests started because of a proposed law to allow extraditions to mainland China. The protests developed into a movement for greater democracy in Hong Kong. The activists are also calling for an independent inquiry into police brutality during the unrest.
Hong Kong’s Victoria Park was filled with hundreds of thousands of protesters for the rally. Crowds of protesters trying to make their way into the park were stuck in the surrounding streets. Police stood watchfully by as marchers chanted and unfurled banners calling for the government to meet their five demands.
Protest March Through Central Hong Kong
One protester, a 24-year-old who would only identify himself as Mr Tang, said protesters needed to have courage. And also try different things to get the government to respond.
When asked whether the last six months had changed him, Mr Tang said: “I’m more concerned about Hong Kong politics. Also about the society and what people are fighting for. After seeing the news, we feel more angry and more concerned.”
Meanwhile, a few hundred pro-Beijing demonstrators gathered in Harbour Road, in Wan Chai, Hong Kong. They waved China and Hong Kong flags and condemned the protests in Hong Kong.
Organisers told local media that they think the vote for local district councils last month was unfair. They also called for “anti-general strike” action on Monday.
Fire department staff removed glass bottles and flammable solvents from hardware stores in Causeway Bay. The officers refused to confirm whether the seizures were related to Sunday’s rally.