HK protesters turn focus to mainlanders

Above: A woman confronting a police officer with a poster critical of the police's handling of protesters. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG Right: Police officers arresting a protester after a separate group of marchers took to the streets in Mongkok last n
Protesters marching yesterday near West Kowloon station, which has a rail link that takes travellers as far away as Beijing on the mainland. Pro-democracy activist Ventus Lau, who applied for a permit for yesterday’s protest march, told The Straits Times he hopes mainland visitors would take Hong Kong’s dissatisfaction over the proposed law to all corners of China. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Above: A woman confronting a police officer with a poster critical of the police's handling of protesters. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG Right: Police officers arresting a protester after a separate group of marchers took to the streets in Mongkok last n
A woman confronting a police officer with a poster critical of the police’s handling of protesters.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Above: A woman confronting a police officer with a poster critical of the police's handling of protesters. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG Right: Police officers arresting a protester after a separate group of marchers took to the streets in Mongkok last n
Police officers arresting a protester after a separate group of marchers took to the streets in Mongkok last night.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

They march to West Kowloon station so mainland visitors can hear their grievances

Under skies heavy with the promise of rain, Hong Kongers gathered outside the city's West Kowloon station yesterday.

Here, at the start of a rail link that takes travellers as far away as Beijing on the mainland, protesters' vocal demands thundered against the station's glass walls.

"There are no violent people, only a tyranny!" they chanted in Cantonese and Mandarin.

For about a month now, Hong Kongers have directed their unhappiness over the extradition Bill - which if passed will allow criminal suspects to be sent to China - at the government, but yesterday, their message was for visitors from the mainland.

Pro-democracy activist Ventus Lau, who applied for a permit for yesterday's protest march, told The Straits Times he hopes mainland visitors would take Hong Kong's dissatisfaction over the proposed law to all corners of China. "What we want to do is show mainland visitors that protests in Hong Kong are peaceful and graceful," he said.

Yesterday's march began in the afternoon under dark clouds and a solemn atmosphere at Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui, the city's shopping and tourist district.

Mr Chan Fui Ming, 29, a contractor who attended the march with friends, said: "Our spirits are a bit low because the government has not been responding to our requests, but I think it is important to come out and show our support."

Organisers said 230,000 people turned up for the protest march yesterday, braving the rain and gloomy weather. Among them were young people and families. Police put the turnout far lower at 56,000 people.

Demonstrators gave out bottles of water, posters with messages of encouragement and fliers with tips on maintaining mental wellness.

At the end of the march, a banner with protesters' demands - which among other things include a complete withdrawal of the suspended Bill - was unfurled.

There were fears that protesters might barge into the station, in a similar fashion to how young protesters had stormed into the Legislative Council last Monday, so police did not take chances.

Barriers about 2m high were erected at the station, which was ringed by police officers. Access was granted only to people with tickets.

At the end, as dusk fell and the skies opened up, organisers urged protesters to disperse and go home to fight another day.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2019, with the headline 'HK protesters turn focus to mainlanders'. Print Edition | Subscribe