Thousands of Hongkongers have marched in Kowloon in the latest anti-extradition bill protest.
Police initially banned the march planned for Saturday in Mong Kok, only allowing protesters to gather in a park on Anchor Street. But an appeal board later allowed protesters to march to Cherry Street Park near Olympic MTR station.
At 3:30pm, when the march was supposed to start, Anchor Street Playground was full with hundreds spilling out onto nearby streets.
Activist Ng Wing-tak, who applied for the police letter of no objection, said he was not satisfied with the route, but the march would be peaceful. “We cannot explain our five demands to more people [because of the route],” he said.
He also said he was concerned about the police potentially using tear gas near residential areas, urging them to show restraint.
Many stores in the area – including at the Langham Place mall – closed their shutters ahead of the protest.
Hong Kong protesters have made several demands including a complete withdrawal of the now-suspended extradition bill, for protests not to be characterised as “riots”, for an independent investigation into police behaviour and for an unconditional release of all arrested protesters. They have also called for a disbanding of the legislature and the implementation of universal suffrage.
‘Revolution of our times.’
Before marching, several political figures were invited to give speeches, as many chanted slogans such as “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.”
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said the government’s latest decision to charge 44 protesters with rioting within two days of arrest was “clearly political.”
“Hong Kong people are tough – we will not be scared by prosecution, by police force, or by triads,” he said.
He urged protesters to support the planned general strike on Monday.
A group of elderly people between 73 and 86 were invited to be the last speakers at the rally.
“We will stand between you and the police. We will tell the police: if you want to beat young people, beat us first,” one said.
As an anti-extradition law rally gets under way in Tai Kok Tsui, stores have closed early in Mong Kok, where the protest march will end. Photo: @inmediahk #HongKong #NoToChinaExtradition #china #antiELAB https://t.co/kmLJLFCnSX pic.twitter.com/ELab4qd8Wu
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) August 3, 2019
Protesters reached the Cherry Street park endpoint at around 5pm. But another group of protesters did not follow the designated route in Tai Kok Tsui, instead heading straight to Mong Kok and onto Tsim Sha Tsui via Nathan Road.
At the endpoint, some protesters vowed to join the break-off group, as chants of “Nathan Road” broke out.
“I will march all the way to Tsim Sha Tsui in support,” a protester who gave surname as Lai told HKFP.
The extradition bill would allow the city to handle case-by-case fugitive transfers to jurisdictions with no prior arrangements, including China which lacks human rights protections. Chief Executive Carrie Lam declared the bill “dead,” but did not enact any mechanism to withdraw it.