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Mammoth rally marks 6 months of HK protests

Mammoth rally marks 6 months of HK protests
Tens of thousands of protesters march in the streets in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong on December 8.
Hong Kong, Dec 8 (AFP) | Publish Date: 12/8/2019 12:50:06 PM IST

Democracy protesters took part in the largest mass rally through Hong Kong’s streets in months on Sunday in a forceful display of support for the movement, with a leading activist warning the city’s pro-Beijing leaders they had a “last chance” to end the political crisis.

Organisers estimated some 800,000 people snaked for hours through the financial hub’s main island as the protests marked six months, a vivid illustration of the hostility that still seethes towards the government after half a year of unrest.

The city’s police force, which historically gives lower crowd turnout figures, told local media 183,000 people attended at the peak, still one of their highest estimates in months.

The rally received rare police permission and came two weeks after pro-establishment parties got a drubbing in local elections, shattering government claims that a “silent majority” opposed the protests.

As night fell the crowds switched on their mobile phone torches, creating a glittering carpet of lights that stretched far into the distance, their chants bouncing off the towering skyscrapers above.

Many of the black-clad attendees voiced anger and frustration that chief executive Carrie Lam and Beijing have ruled out any further concessions despite the landslide election defeat.

“No matter how we express our views, through peacefully marching, through civilised elections, the government won’t listen,” said a 50-year-old protester, who gave his surname Wong. “It only follows orders from the Chinese Communist Party.” “I don’t know how long the fight will be,” added another protester, who gave his first name as Kelvin. “So far I can’t see the end but we won’t back down.” 

Cantonese popstar Denise Ho, whose music is blacklisted on the Chinese mainland, tweeted a video of the huge crowds with the caption: “Here’s your majority Carrie Lam”.

Semi-autonomous Hong Kong has been battered by increasingly violent demonstrations in the starkest challenge the city has presented to Beijing since its 1997 handover from Britain.

Millions have marched in protests fuelled by years of growing fears that authoritarian China is stamping out the city’s liberties.

The last fortnight has seen a marked drop in violence and vandalism after the landslide win by pro-democracy candidates.

Police took the unusual step of allowing the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) to hold Sunday’s march - the first time the group has been granted permission since mid-August - but they warned they would have zero tolerance for violence by radicals.

The movement’s demands include an independent inquiry into the police’s handling of the protests, an amnesty for those arrested, and fully free elections. “Carrie Lam should listen to the demands of Hong Kongers as soon as possible,” CHRF’s leader Jimmy Sham told reporters after earlier billing the march as Lam’s “last chance” to listen to the people.

The protests 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. 

Monday marks the six-month anniversary of the protests during which some 6,000 people have been arrested and hundreds injured, including police.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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