Hong Kong mums come out in black to support young anti-extradition Bill protesters

Top and above: Thousands of women, mostly mothers, but also a number of men who wanted to lend their support, gathering at Chater Garden in Hong Kong yesterday to show solidarity with the young protesters. Left: A young child writing a message encour
(Above) Thousands of women, mostly mothers, but also a number of men who wanted to lend their support, gathering at Chater Garden in Hong Kong yesterday to show solidarity with the young protesters.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Top and above: Thousands of women, mostly mothers, but also a number of men who wanted to lend their support, gathering at Chater Garden in Hong Kong yesterday to show solidarity with the young protesters. Left: A young child writing a message encour
(Above) Thousands of women, mostly mothers, but also a number of men who wanted to lend their support, gathering at Chater Garden in Hong Kong yesterday to show solidarity with the young protesters.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Top and above: Thousands of women, mostly mothers, but also a number of men who wanted to lend their support, gathering at Chater Garden in Hong Kong yesterday to show solidarity with the young protesters. Left: A young child writing a message encour
A young child writing a message encouraging the "brothers and sisters" fighting the extradition Bill. Attendees were given strips of cloth and markers to write down their hopes for the city. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Thousands of protesters yesterday gathered for a sit-down rally in Chater Garden, in the heart of the city, organised by a group of mothers to support the young people who have taken to the streets for nearly a month to oppose a controversial extradition Bill.

While the government has suspended the proposed law - which would have allowed fugitives to be sent to the mainland - with embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam apologising twice over the controversy, many are still unhappy about what they say has been the government's arrogance. Among other things, the protesters have demanded that the Bill be completely scrapped.

Organisers said nearly 8,000 attended the protest, mostly women who were mothers but also a number of men wanting to lend their support. Police did not release an attendance estimate by press time.

Dressed mostly in black, the mothers held up signs that read "Withdraw the Bill", "Stop the White Terror" - in a reference to the era of suppression of political dissidents in Taiwan - and "We go forward together", in what was seen as a clear message of encouragement for the youth who say they have lost hope about the future.

"It doesn't matter that we are going to be a part of China, but we just don't want our civil liberties to be eradicated in the way the government is attempting to," said Ms Kinki Leung, a 44-year-old mother of two.

Surrounded by the glitzy skyscrapers of the financial district, several personalities gave speeches, including Cantopop singer and activist Denise Ho.

"This is a very critical and historic moment... You can't think of only yourself when your beautiful city is being destroyed, it is pretty obvious what your choice is," Ms Ho told The Straits Times. She has faced backlash for her activism on rights issues, and has been prevented from performing on the mainland, where her music is banned.

Those attending the protest yesterday were given strips of cloth and markers where they wrote down their hopes for the city. These were then tied together and held up for a picture, signifying Hong Kongers standing together.

Over the past month, three mass rallies have been held, which organisers say attracted over a million people. They have largely been peaceful, but violence has broken out on at least two occasions after protesters laid siege to the police headquarters and occupied government offices in an act of civil disobedience.

 
 

The situation boiled over on Monday - the 22nd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule - with hundreds of young protesters forcing their way into the Legislative Council building, occupying and ransacking it for more than two hours.

 

Organisers of the Hong Kong Mothers' Anti-Extradition Rally, which is also the name of a Facebook group, have a list of demands, similar to those of the younger protesters. They have asked for the Bill to be withdrawn; to drop the "riot" classification of the events of June 12, when police clashed with protesters; to open an independent inquiry into the clashes, where there were accusations of police brutality; to stop "white terror"; and for universal suffrage.

Another major rally has been planned for tomorrow on the Kowloon peninsula with the aim of spreading news of the Bill to tourists from the mainland, where events about Hong Kong have been heavily censored.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2019, with the headline 'HK mums come out in black to support young protesters'. Print Edition | Subscribe