- Chanting "fight for freedom" and "stand with Hong Kong," the sea of protesters marched from Victoria Park to Chater Road.
- Many of the protesters raised their hands with five fingers extended, in reference to their five demands.
- The organizer of the march, Eric Lai, asked the police to restrain themselves and not to use tear gas.
A huge crowd of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday, in a massive demonstration, marking half a year of protests. The massive turn was undoubtedly a sign by the majority of Hong Kong residents of their full support for the anti-government demonstrations that have been witnessed in the Chinese-ruled autonomous region since June.
Chanting “fight for freedom” and “stand with Hong Kong,” the sea of protesters marched all the way from Victoria Park in the busy commercial district of Causeway Bay to Chater Road, a stones throw away from the heart of the financial district. The march stopped at times, with hundreds of thousands of people cramming narrow streets as their cries of “revolution in our day” echoed through the city’s skyscrapers.
Many of the protesters raised their hands with five fingers extended, in reference to their five demands. They include democratic elections to the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive. “I will fight for freedom until I die because I am a Hong Konger,” June, a 40-year-old mother dressed in black told Al Jazeera News. “Today is about standing with Hong Kong and the international community.” She added. “They are out of control,” said Ernest Yau, a 28-year-old consultant. “We understand our common enemy,” he added. “We understand that we have to be united to fight against China, to fight against a government that doesn’t listen to its people.”
Sunday’s high turnout of protesters is reminiscent of the first two months of protests, which usually attracted several hundreds of thousands of people. The police banned mass marches when they began to turn violent, but they yielded, and authorized the demonstration on Sunday after a few weeks of relative calm.
A large number of police officers with riot gear were deployed along the route. Police had announced on Sunday the arrest of 11 people and the seizure of several weapons, which included a firearm with more than 100 bullets. According to police, the detainees planned to use the weapons during the protest and later blame the police, who have been accused of abuse and use of extra force against protesters.
The organizer of the march, Eric Lai, asked the police to restrain themselves and not to use tear gas. The police, who have used tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets in previous demonstrations, said the force was necessary to disperse protesters who cut streets, attacked shops and threw incendiary bombs.
The march was convened by the Civil Human Rights Front, a group that has organized some of the most crucial marches since the protests began on June 9. Hundreds of thousands gathered to oppose a bill— since withdrawn by the local government— that would have allowed them to be extradited to mainland China and tried by courts controlled by the ruling Communist Party. Since the demonstrations ensued, some 6,000 people have been arrested and hundreds injured, according to the region’s police records.