Thousands of elderly Hongkongers marched on Wednesday in solidarity with young anti-extradition bill protesters.

Photo: May James.

Billed as a march for the “silver-haired,” the event drew large crowds to Chater Garden in Central. Organisers said over 9,000 people joined the rally, which ended outside the Admiralty government headquarters. Police said the event turnout was 1,500 at its peak.

Marchers voiced opposition to the now-suspended extradition bill, which would allow Hong Kong to transfer fugitives to mainland China.

See also: HKFP Lens: ‘Protect Hong Kong’ – seniors rally against extradition bill in solidarity with young protesters

Photo: May James.

Like other protests in recent weeks, the march also reiterated the five core demands put forward by protesters, including calls for an independent investigation into police behaviour and universal suffrage.

Activist Yeung Po-hi, one of the protest organisers, read aloud a statement in support of “our youth in their struggle of no return.”

Activist Yeung Po-hi (centre) and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming (left). Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

“In their fight against the extradition bill, our youth brave truncheons, tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, violent arrest and, harsh punishment,” Yeung said. “We are proud of them – their determination, mobilisation and tactics, teamwork and self-organisation.”

The statement also endorsed the storming of the legislature on July 1, describing it as a justifiable response by young people and a “symbolic provocation” to the Chinese Communist Party.

Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, a member of the “Occupy trio” behind the 2014 pro-democracy movement, also addressed the crowd, calling on Chief Executive Carrie Lam to “repent.”

If Lam was “still a human being,” Chu said, she would have “compassion” and stop arresting young protesters and dividing society.

While the event was billed as a silent march, the elderly attendees shouted slogans along the way such as “Carrie Lam step down” and “No rioters, only a tyrannical regime.”

Photo: May James.

Marchers were encouraged to write their demands on a ribbon, and to tie it to a rack outside the government’s headquarters.

Photo: May James.

Ms. Chung, a retired civil servant who is over 70, told HKFP that the top priority for the chief executive should be to set up an independent commission of inquiry to examine the clashes over the past weeks.

“[Lam] didn’t agree to do anything. At least, she should first investigate and know what happened. Otherwise, this situation cannot be resolved,” she said.

Photo: May James.

She also criticised Hong Kong’s civil service, which she said showed a wider trend of “deviating” from established practices.

Mr. Wong, a 65-year-old retired repairman, told HKFP that he was deeply moved by the scene of young protesters smashing into the legislature with a metal cart.

“I felt the cart was like us elderly people, we are just filled with useless cardboard. How can we break the glass? We need a push from the young,” he said.

Mr. Wong, a retired repairman, joined the march holding a sign that reads: ‘Young people have both intelligence and bravery, the silver-haired will walk with you, add oil.” Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Wong said that the government forced people to radicalise. “They were targeting the symbol of the regime, and not affecting the lives of normal people,” he said. “I don’t see a problem at all.”

Some seniors told HKFP that young protesters should not target frontline police officers, but many also said that the force was to blame for recent clashes – including the bloody episode in Sha Tin on Sunday.

Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Mr. and Mrs. Lee, both retirees, said that the situation only escalated because the police surrounded protesters and did not allow them to leave via the MTR station.

The Lees added that the march could correct the misconception that all senior citizens held pro-establishment views.

Mr. Lee, a retiree who used to work in publishing, joined the march with his wife. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

“This is an all-encompassing movement. Elderly, middle-aged and young people all oppose [Carrie Lam],” Mr. Lee said.

Another protest against the extradition law will be held by the Civil Human Rights Front on Sunday.

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Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.