Thousands of Hongkongers formed human chains at two of the city’s iconic hilltops on Friday evening in a show of solidarity with pro-democracy protesters.

September 13 mid-autumn festival lion rock light protest
A banner reading “implement dual universal suffrage” [for the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council] hung on Lion Rock. Photo: Kevin Cheng/USP United Social Press.

The gatherings marking the Mid-Autumn Festival took place at Lion Rock in Kowloon and Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island.

Crowds chanted “stand with Hong Kong, fight for freedom” and shone their mobile phone lights and laser pens, which were visible from afar.

September 13 mid-autumn festival lion rock light protest

Others formed a human chain between Lion Rock and Lok Fu MTR Station, as slogans such as “Keep going” and “Fight for freedom” rang out during the hike.

September 13 mid-autumn festival lion rock light protest
Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

In-keeping with the festive spirit, hikers shared snacks with one another at the pagoda adjacent to Lion Rock.

They also sang protests, including an “unofficial national anthem” called Glory to Hong Kong which became popular this week.

snacks mid autumn festival
People shared snacks with one another at Lion Rock. Photo: HKFP.

Lion Rock has particular symbolic value to Hongkongers – a 1970s song and TV series called Below the Lion Rock told the story of the city’s resilience.

September 13 mid-autumn festival lion rock light protest
Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

“We had a TV drama in Hong Kong that talked about this place—how Hong Kong people fought in their daily lives—so this is a symbol for Hong Kong people, and the spirit of Hong Kong people,” Sharon told HKFP. She also brought food and first aid material on the hike.

Sharon. Photo: HKFP.

Another hiker, Ms Ho, brought her two children on the hike: ‘We just wanted to have a special festival – it’s our first time to this mountain… I needed to carry him sometimes. Previously, we went to the June 9 protest.”

See more: Hong Kong’s Mid-Autumn Festival mooncakes get a protest makeover

September 13 mid-autumn festival lion rock light protest
Photo: Tam Ming Keung/United Social Press.

Human chains

Various events took place in local parks and open space across the city. A human chain was formed across three MTR stations in Tseung Kwan O—Po Lam, Hang Hau and Tiu Keng Leng station— despite a police presence.

YouTube video

A large yellow lantern in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, was also transformed into a makeshift “Lennon Wall”—the name given to colourful messages boards filled with Post-It Notes expressing support for the protest movement.

September 13 mid-autumn festival lion rock light protest
Lion Rock. Photo: Team CBB.

Hundreds had also gathered in shopping malls across Causeway Bay, Ma On Shan and other districts, singing Glory to Hong Kong.

September 12 Victoria Park glory to Hong Kong
Photo: Chau Ho Man/United Social Press.

Hong Kong has been shaken by nearly 15 consecutive weeks of large-scale protests, sparked by a soon-to-be-withdrawn bill, which would have allowed local authorities to transfer fugitives to their mainland counterparts.

The demonstrations have since morphed into sometimes violent display against Beijing’s encroachment, calls for universal suffrage, alleged police misconduct, and other community grievances.

September 13 mid-autumn festival lion rock light protest

Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s announcement last Wednesday of a plan to withdraw the controversial bill has done little to quell protests, with demonstrators vowing to continue.

The government has repeatedly condemned acts of violence and vandalism by “radical protesters.” Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said on Wednesday that officials have been studying the possibility of enacting emergency legislation as well as a ban on wearing masks at protests.

September 12 Victoria Park glory to Hong Kong
Photo: Chau Ho Man/United Social Press.

On Thursday, four United Nations-appointed independent rights experts expressed concern over “credible reports of repeated instances” where the authorities failed to ensure safe environments for people to engage in peaceful assemblies.

September 8 Central MTR riot police protest
Riot police in Causeway Bay on September 8. Photo: Jimmy Lam/United Social Press.

On Friday, Hong Kong police suspended an “anti-violence” hotline service on WhatsApp—a popular messaging app—citing “different opinions” on it, just three days after its launch. The service was intended to solicit tips from the public regarding the protests.

From Friday afternoon, donations of boxes of candles, flowers and banners were laid out by the Lennon Wall in Admiralty in preparation for a vigil to honour those who had lost their lives during the protest movement. The wall, on the side of government headquarters, has often been covered in pro-democracy post-it note messages of support.

Also on Friday, crowds assembled outside Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre in the evening calling for the release of detained activists.

Over 1,100 people have been arrested in relation to the protests. At least a hundred have been charged with various crimes, including rioting and taking part in an unlawful assembly.

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Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.