HONG KONG: Thousands of protesters chanted anti-government slogans and sang their “Glory to Hong Kong” anthem on Saturday, marking the fifth anniversary of the “Umbrella” pro-democracy movement as protests which have gridlocked the territory for weeks continued.
Families gathered at the harbourside Tamar Park, in front of central government offices and the Legislative Council, both of which have come under attack for more than three months, sparking violent street battles with police.
Its a special day for Hong Kong protesters. We will stick together to fight for freedom,” said Sam, 33, dressed in black and wearing a mask. Most people think Hong Kong was dying after five years, but many people are still fighting for Hong Kong.” A series of protests for and against Communist Party rulers in Beijing is planned for the Chinese-ruled city ahead of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic on Tuesday, including at the consulate of former colonial power Britain.
The Hong Kong building of the Chinese state-owned investment company CITIC, next to the Legislative Council, ran a huge purple LED-lit banner down its front commemorating National Day.
Anti-government protesters have attacked the legislature, Beijing’s main Liaison Office, occupied the airport, thrown petrol bombs at police, vandalised metro stations and set street fires in more than three months of unrest.
Police have responded with tear gas, water cannon, rubber bullets and occasional live rounds fired into the air.
The MTR subway system closed entrances to some stations on Saturday to prevent fresh attacks. There were some small scuffles with police who responded with pepper spray. Large, peaceful gatherings have often turned violent at night.
The student-led Umbrella protests gridlocked the city for 79 days in 2014 but failed to wrest concessions from Beijing.
“They are not our children,” China supporter Yau Mei-kwang said of the frontline activists. “Because at this age, they should be studying, not running to the airport, hitting people, hitting the police, insulting people. That is not right.” A pro-democracy protester who only gave his name as Wong defended the use of violence. “We know that they will not listen if we rally in peace because we are not on the same level.”