Up to 800,000 people participated in a rally this weekend in Hong Kong in celebration of the United Nations’ Human Rights Day.
The demonstration was among the largest held since June, when Hong Kongers began protesting an extradition bill.
Protestors chanted “Stand with Hong Kong, “Fight for Freedom,” and “Revolution in our times.” Many of them held up five fingers to represent the movement’s five demands:
- Withdrawal of the extradition bill
- Investigation of police brutality
- Release of arrested protestors
- Retraction of official statements describing the protests as “riots”
- Democratic elections and the resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam
One supporter crawled and her hands and knees through the crowd, dragging bricks and empty cans behind her to symbolize the difficulty and monotony of the protest.
“If the government still refuses to acknowledge our demands after today, we should and will escalate our protests,” warned protestor Tamara Wong.
The event was largely peaceful, with the exception of a few vandalized buildings and roughly 11 arrests. Police also seized several firearms from a group of suspects who had planned to use the weapons to frame the police, who are accused of using excessive force to disperse protestors.
“They are out of control,” said protestor Ernest Yau of the Hong Kong police. “We understand our common enemy…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 demonstration comes two weeks after a stunning victory for pro-Democracy advocates in local elections as well as the singing of two bills in the United States – one that keeps tabs on China’s treatment of Hong Kong and one that suspends munitions sales to Hong Kong police.
Unfortunately, the protest is doomed to end in failure because we predict Beijing will give no ground despite Hong Kong’s wishes, police brutality, or economic fallout.