Hong Kong protesters gather to show support for young anti-extradition Bill demonstrators

Organisers have said they are expecting about 3,000 people to turn up. So far, there are nearly 1,000 at the rally site, with more steaming in as people knocked off work.
Organisers have said they are expecting about 3,000 people to turn up. So far, there are nearly 1,000 at the rally site, with more steaming in as people knocked off work. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Organisers have said they are expecting about 3,000 people to turn up. So far, there are nearly 1,000 at the rally site, with more steaming in as people knocked off work.
Organisers have said they are expecting about 3,000 people to turn up. So far, there are nearly 1,000 at the rally site, with more steaming in as people knocked off work.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

HONG KONG - Thousands of protesters on Friday (July 5) 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 against a controversial extradition Bill.

While the government has suspended the Bill - which would have allowed fugitives to be sent to the mainland – with embattled Chief Executive 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 say nearly 8,000 attended the protests, mostly women who were mothers but also a number of men wanting to lend their support to the cause. 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” 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’re 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’s 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 on Friday were given strips of cloth and markers where they wrote down their hopes for the city. These pieces 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 more than 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.

The situation boiled over on Monday (July 1) – the 22nd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong by Britain to China - with hundreds of young protesters battering their way into the Legislative Council (LegCo) building, occupying and ransacking it for over 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; open an independent inquiry into the clashes, where there were accusations of police brutality; stop white terror; and for universal suffrage.