Hong Kong on security alert as thousands march in fresh wave of protests
July 21, 2019 12:12 PM NPT
Anti-extradition demonstrators march to call for democratic reforms, in Hong Kong, China July 21, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su
HONG KONG, July 21: Tens of thousands marched in sweltering heat in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong on Sunday as anti-government protests show no signs of let-up, with anger over an extradition bill morphing into a fresh front against what many see as an erosion of freedoms.
Millions have rallied over the past two months in an unprecedented show of force against Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, triggering the worst social turmoil to rock the former British colony since it returned to Chinese rule 22 years ago.
Protesters marched in temperatures of around 31 degrees Celsius (87.8°F) from Victoria Park in the bustling shopping district of Causeway Bay to Wan Chai, just one metro stop away, after police shortened the route, citing safety concerns.
Rally organizers lost their appeal to have the march route end at the Court of Final Appeal in Central district, close to where police in June fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse activists.
“I think many people will just march on towards Central,” said pro-democracy legislator Claudia Mo.
“The police are terribly worried, I understand, about possible scuffles, clashes ... violence around the government and legislative complexes and the police headquarters.”
Authorities used massive blue and white water barriers to barricade government and police headquarters, while global bank HSBC, in a rare move, pulled down large metal barriers on the street level of its gleaming skyscraper building.
While most of the rallies have passed off peacefully, some have erupted into violence late at night when more radical protesters have clashed with police.
In images beamed live to the world in recent weeks, protesters besieged police headquarters and on July 1 - the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule - stormed and ransacked the city’s legislature.