Several hundred attended a rally at Edinburgh Place on Monday evening, grieving for injured demonstrators and those who have died during almost seven months of ongoing protest.
Organisers said 600 attended, whilst police said 280 attended at the peak of the event. The rally was the final rally of the year approved by the police.
Protesters began arriving at around 5pm, observing a moment of silence for those who died and offering white funeral flowers and cards.
They sang the popular protest song Glory to Hong Kong whilst switching on their phone lights. They then chanted slogans including “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” “five demands not one less” and “disband Hong Kong police force now.”
Hong Kong has seen half-a-year of protest and unrest initially against a now-withdrawn extradition agreement with mainland China. The movement has evolved into wider calls for democratic reform, police accountability, and amnesty for those arrested since June as well as full democracy.
Several people have lost their lives during the unrest. On June 15, 35-year-old Marco Leung fell from height while protesting at Pacific Place mall in Admiralty. Lo Hiu-yan, a 21-year-old female Education University student, fell to her death from a Fanling housing estate two weeks later after leaving a message about the extradition bill. And Chan Yin-lam, a 15-year-old Hong Kong Design Institute student, was last seen on September 19. Her naked body was found in waters near Yau Tong three days later.
Most recently, Alex Chow Tsz-lok – a 22-year-old Hong Kong University of Science and Technology student – succumbed to serious injuries he sustained from a one-storey fall from a Tseung Kwan O carpark in late October. The incident occurred as police were dispersing protesters nearby, though the cause of his fall remains unclear.
‘Lost freedom and democracy’
The 23-year-old organiser of Monday’s rally, who used the nickname “shrimp dumpling,” said he had little power but wished to do something: “I hope to mourn for the lost freedom and democracy of Hong Kong that has lost its freedom.”
He said “protesters were injured physically. Hong Kong people were injured psychologically… but we will persist.”
Thomas, the master of ceremony, told protesters that the police approved the rally under the conditions that they will not remove flags from City Hall, will not paste up authorised posters, spray graffiti or use laser pens, among other requirements.
Police arrested a man on December 22 at Edinburgh Place after he removed a national flag from City Hall.
He also urged Christians to say no to injustice and the Hong Kong government.
Reverend David Cheung of The Narrow Church said people have to “become light” when fighting the darkness of the regime.
“Hong Kong people have to promote our fight to the outside world, so that churches worldwide will pray for us and support us,” he said.
New Year message
In a New Year’s message alongside top ministers, Chief Executive Carie Lam vowed to listen to Hongkongers following the months of unrest: “The situation has caused sadness, anxiety, disappointment and even rage… I will listen humbly to find a way out,” she said. “We can begin again together.”
The new year is nevertheless set to kick off with more demonstrations, as the city’s largest protest organiser rallies Hongkongers for its New Year’s Day rally. The Civil Human Rights Front received a letter of no objection from the police for the January 1 pro-democracy protest.
Crowds are expected to gather at the Central Lawn of Victoria Park in Causeway Bay at around 2pm, before marching to the pedestrian area of Chater Road in Central.
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