Thousands of mothers and other Hongkongers rallied at Central’s Chater Garden on Friday evening in support of young protesters against the extradition bill.
They distributed carnations – a symbol of motherhood – and held up placards condemning police brutality, such as “don’t shoot our kids.”
Violent clashes took place on Wednesday as protesters surrounded the Legislative Council to derail the second reading of the bill, and the subsequent police clearance led to 81 injuries, according to the Hospital Authority.
The mothers said they set up the rally at very short notice in reaction to Wednesday’s events, and initially organised an online petition.
“Real mothers… mothers who care about the next generation… are meant to listen and communicate,” said Linda Wong, one of the organisers. In a Wednesday TVB interview, Chief Executive Carrie Lam had said she could not withdraw the bill just as mothers could not indulge children to do whatever they want.
“Today we gather here to send a signal to the young people that they will not be alone,” the organisers said in a prepared statement. “We will be with them.”
Organisers announced a turnout of 6,000.
Police put the figure at 1,000.
In February, Hong Kong proposed legal amendments to allow it to handle case-by-case extradition requests from territories with no prior agreements – most notably China and Taiwan. Lawyers, journalists, foreign politicians and businesses have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland, which lacks human rights protections.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam is expected to announce on Saturday that the controversial extradition bill will be paused or suspended. The government says she will meet the media at the Central Government Office at 3pm.
A small group of hunger strikers continued to hold vigil on a bridge outside the government headquarters on Saturday morning.
A translator named Yoyo, who has been on hunger strike for over 75-hours, told HKFP that they opposed the extradition bill and the “police brutality” seen during the week.
“We also want to stop any form of political persecution of anyone who participated in the protests,” she said.
After 85-hours, some of the group – mostly artists – have been receiving medical treatment.
Police are preventing the public from accessing the area around Tamar, with officers stationed at barricades around the site.
On Saturday, calls were also circulating for fathers to turn up at Sunday’s planned anti-extradition bill rally organised by the Civil Human Rights Front – which co-incides with Father’s Day.
The Front also announced they would set up an “anti-extradition protest trust.” The trust will aim to collect funds for the medical treatment and legal fees of injured and arrested anti-extradition bill protesters.
Last Sunday, the Front said over a million turned up to protest the bill.