Thousands of protesters gathered in Central on Thanksgiving to express their gratitude to the US for passing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act – legislation that Washington can use to punish the city’s officials.

Photo: Benjamin Yuen, Cezzna, Chau Ho Man, Tam Ming Keung @ USP United Social Press

Thursday evening’s rally, which organisers say 100,000 attended, took place at Edinburgh Place.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

It came after US President Donald Trump signed the act into law in the morning, despite Beijing’s repeated opposition.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Police said 9,600 people attended at the rally’s peak.

Photo: Benjamin Yuen, Cezzna, Chau Ho Man, Tam Ming Keung @ USP United Social Press

Sunny Cheung, a member of the Hong Kong Higher Institutions International Affairs Delegation (HKIAD) which organised the event, said they prepared a 100-page report for the US to consider sanctions.

Photo: Benjamin Yuen, Cezzna, Chau Ho Man, Tam Ming Keung @ USP United Social Press

He said the act was passed faster because US senators saw the police operations at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the siege of the Polytechnic University.

Photo: Chau Ho Man, Tam Ming Keung @ USP United Social Press.

“These events made [Senate majority leader] Mitch McConnell and US President Donald Trump unable to stand with the enemies of Hong Kong people,” Cheung said.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

“We must thank our front line protesters for fighting with their blood – otherwise we would not have this act today,” he added.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Student leaders, activists and scholars spoke at the rally about the influence that the bill will bring to the protests in Hong Kong, which have been ongoing for more than five months.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Initially against the now-withdrawn extradition bill, the movement has morphed into a much bigger protest movement calling for democracy and an investigation into the police use of force.

Photo: Benjamin Yuen, Cezzna, Chau Ho Man, Tam Ming Keung @ USP United Social Press

Trump also signed the PROTECT Hong Kong Act, which bans the sale of US crowd control weapons to Hong Kong.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Demosisto Secretary-General Joshua Wong said he thanked overseas Hong Kong people for their effort to lobby the US Congress, as well as frontline protesters.

He also thanked Hong Kong voters for the pro-democracy camp’s major win at the District Council election last Sunday.

Wong said it was the last straw forcing Trump to sign the act.

Photo: Benjamin Yuen, Cezzna, Chau Ho Man, Tam Ming Keung @ USP United Social Press

“When we do interviews by international media in the future, we can proudly say: we are the majority!” he said.

The act will impose penalties upon Hong Kong and mainland Chinese officials who infringe upon “basic freedoms” in the city, including freezing their US-based assets, denying the use of the US banking system, and being denied entry into the US.

Singer and activist Denise Ho led the crowd in singing the popular protest anthem Glory to Hong Kong.

Participants asked each other to stand up for the “national anthem” and switch on their phone lights.


【中環 香港人權法案感恩節集會】早前有份到美國參與遊說工作的歌手何韻詩,今日現身愛丁堡廣場的《香港人權與民主法案》感恩節集會。她形容今次美國通過法案只是小勝利,未來尚有很多路要一同走下去。她帶領現場唱出《願榮光歸香港》,並形容這首歌是屬於每一位香港人。

Posted by Stand News 立場新聞 on Thursday, 28 November 2019

Kex Leung, a member of the HKIAD, said the group will ask for further help from the international community, including setting up an international commission of inquiry investigating the police, passing more laws to punish those harmed human rights and democracy in Hong Kong, among other measures.

“Dear America and dear world, please continue to stand with us, and fight alongside us,” he said. “Join us, join the right side.”

Jo. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

“I feel touched and excited – we thank [the] USA for this,” a protester named Jo told HKFP. “There will still be protests,” he added.

Kay. Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

“There is little we can do as local people, so we count on international support… The government is not doing anything to stop the police,” a protester named Kay told HKFP. “We do keep our faith and hope justice and equality will come.”

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.