380,000 Hongkongers March to Renew Calls for Freedom and Democracy

By BY ANNIE WU AND FRANK FANG
Epoch Times Staff


HONG KONG—Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets on Dec. 1 afternoon, in an effort to rejuvenate their movement that started nearly six months ago.

Under the theme of “Never Forget Why You Started,” protesters gathered at a landmark clock tower in the Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood. At around 3:30 p.m. local time, they began walking out and then marched off along Salisbury Road to the Hong Kong Coliseum, which is located in Hung Hom, Kowloon.

Protesters could be heard shouting slogans such as “disband the police force,” and “the heavens will eliminate the Chinese Communist Party, let the entire Party die.”

The peaceful march, which was organized by a local netizen who identified himself as Swing, had been granted police approval. But soon after it took off, police interrupted the scene. A sizable force had gathered, with at least nine police vans in the area.

At around 4:50 p.m. local time, riot police suddenly charged at protesters at an area near the intersection between Salisbury Road and Nathan Road, which is right before Salisbury Garden.

 

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters participate in a “5 Demands” mass rally on Dec. 1, 2019 in Hong Kong. (Gordon Yu/The Epoch Times)

 

A protester holds a sign that reads “justice will prevail” during a mass rally on Dec. 1. (Gordon Yu/The Epoch Times)

The police fired pepper spray and tear gas, before making at least two arrests.

The police then put up a blue flag, declaring that people are engaging in an illegal assembly.

Amid the chaos, protesters could be heard shouting insults at the riot police. Others said, “The United States will sanction you guys” and “Hong Kong people have the right to free assembly.” At around 5:15 p.m., an organizer called off the march.

A stand-off between police and protesters followed, with the former occasionally rushing forward attempting to make arrests. Eventually, at around 6:30 p.m., riot police at Salisbury Garden pulled out of the area.

At 5:52 p.m., the Hong Kong government released a press release, stating that police had responded with tear gas after protesters threw bricks at police officers at an area near Mody Road Garden, which is several blocks away from the Hong Kong Coliseum.

Swing spoke to the press at around 7 p.m., saying that about 380,000 people turned up for the march. He added that he got a call from the police at around 4 p.m., telling him that the assembly was illegal and needed to be called off.

On Nov. 27, U.S. President Donald Trump signed two Hong Kong bills into law, one of them the  Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which stipulates sanctions on both Chinese and Hong Kong officials who have violated human rights in the city.

Since then, two separate Hong Kong rallies were held to thank Trump and U.S. lawmakers for passing the bills.

 

A protester holds up a flag with the words “Free Hong Kong, Revolution Now” in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, on Dec. 1, 2019. (Wen Hanlin/The Epoch Times)

Before the parade was called off, Ms. Chan, a middle-aged woman, told The Epoch Times that she came to the protest because she had to do her part to support the movement.

“Since the beginning of the movement, the government has never responded to [our] demands,” Chan said.

She believed that the current protest movement will keep going because of “everyone’s persistence and bravery.”

A female protester, who only identified herself as a student at the City University of Hong Kong (CUHK), was seen helping another protester write red graffiti on a road with the Chinese words,

“Remove the [Chinese] Communist Party.”

Asked about the message, the female protester said, “Hong Kong is still being controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). No matter who the chief executive [top Hong Kong official] is, the CCP will be the puppet master.”

When asked if the protesters’ demand for universal suffrage could be achieved, given that the CCP has clearly stated in the past that it would not grant true free elections, the female protester admitted that the demand would be hard to meet.

However, she added that CCP is now experiencing challenges internally and externally.

“The whole world is resisting the Chinese Communist Party. And we [Hong Kong people] are fanning the flames,” she said.

She concluded: “The world and Hong Kong have to keep up the momentum.”

Follow Annie on Twitter: @annieeenyc

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