Around 100 independence activists and their supporters marched to the US Consulate General on Sunday demanding that the United States freeze assets belonging to Hong Kong government officials under their jurisdiction. The activists said the Hong Kong officials had “committed human rights violations” by pushing undemocratic policies.
Meanwhile, at Admiralty’s Civic Square, a separate group of independence activists interrupted a Lantau conservation forum, urging protesters to join the rally outside the consulate.
The incidents took place after a larger protest march earlier in the day where thousands rallied against reclamation plans for artificial islands off Lantau Island. Protesters criticised the plan for its environmental impact and cost – expected to be up to HK$100 billion.
Wayne Chan, convener of the Students Independence Union, said their two causes were linked. Chan said the group also opposed the Lantau reclamation plan, and their appeal to the United States was a further step to pressure Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her administration.
Chan called on the US to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, a bill first introduced in 2015 by Senator Marco Rubio and others. It would grant authority to the US government to establish “punitive measures” against Hong Kong officials who suppress basic freedoms.
“As [Hong Kongers], we have to collect our voices to show the US government that we want this Act to come out very soon,” Chan told HKFP.
“The chief executive is actually destroying Hong Kong’s core values, she is selling all of our things to mainland China. So we think this is violating human rights and democracy, so we think [the Act] can help Hong Kongers to fight the government,” he added.
Anti-reclamation protesters – including Chan and other independence advocates – reached their destination at Admiralty’s government headquarters at around 6pm. Chan’s group then left for the US consulate in Central shortly before 7pm.
Masked activists interrupt forum
At around 7:30pm, a separate group of independence activists interrupted an evening forum held by the anti-reclamation protesters who stayed behind at Civic Square outside the government headquarters.
Several masked men rushed into the centre of Civic Square and surrounded forum speakers Edward Yiu and Camille Lam. The activists forcibly took the microphone from Yiu before being pulled away by police.
One of the men asked to speak, which was permitted by the forum’s organisers. He said he wanted to stop the “karaoke-style rally” – suggesting the rally was repetitive and ineffectual. He urged attendees to join the Student Independence Union’s protest outside the US consulate, which was occurring at the same time.
Both forum speakers said they did not suffer any injury. Yiu told InMedia that the situation was chaotic, and he hoped that all citizens wishing to speak should ask the forum organisers in an orderly manner.
InMedia reported that, at around 8:15pm, Rayman Chow Wai-hung – a district councillor – was injured during the scuffle and was taken to the hospital. At least two arrests were made.
Event organiser Eddie Tse Sai-kit of the Save Lantau Alliance cancelled remaining events for the night at around 9pm. Tse said he would not take further action over the masked men who interrupted the forum, but said they should have informed organisers to avoid disruption.
Chan and nearly 100 activists and supporters convened at the US consulate at around 8pm. The police warned activists that they were taking part in an illegal assembly and attempted to prevent them from passing, before relenting.
When asked about the forum interruption, Chan said he was not aware of it and that his group was not responsible.
Chan had prepared a letter for the consulate but, as of midnight, no consular representative came out to receive it. The US consulate is closed on Sunday, but Chan said he had emailed them ahead of time inform them of the protest.
“We will not leave. We will just stay here to deliver the letter. Our demand is simple, we just want our voice to be heard by the US consulate,” he said using a loudspeaker outside the consulate gates.
Around ten protesters remained outside the US consulate by Monday morning. Around 20 stayed at the St. John’s Building opposite the consulate. Police officers on site asked them to show their identification and asked to check their belongings.
Pro-independence group Student Localism said their members were also asked by police officers to provide their addresses.
At around 8:30am, Harvey Sernovitz, spokesperson of the US consulate, received a protest letter from Chan.