Hong Kong activists have installed a light display on top of Lion Rock to mark the second anniversary of the start of the pro-democracy protests and unrest that gripped the city in 2019.

Photo: Stand News.

LED displays reading “Free HK” and “Faith” towered over the city on Wednesday evening, two years after a protest said by organisers to have attracted one million people sparked months of pro-democracy demonstrations.

Photo: Stand News.

On June 9, 2019, masses of people marched peacefully along a major road on Hong Kong island to protest against a later-withdrawn bill that would have allowed Hongkongers to be extradited to stand trial in mainland China’s opaque legal system.

Photo: Stand News.

Acts of public dissent are becoming increasingly rare in Hong Kong, after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law last June which critics say is designed to quell all forms of public protest. Most pro-democracy leaders are either behind bars or in self-exile.

Photo: Stand News.

Authorities have said the slogans “Liberate Hong Kong” and “Hong Kong Independence” are illegal under the national security law. It remains unclear whether “Free Hong Kong” is similarly forbidden.

The mountain has previously been a symbol of defiance for the city’s now flagging pro-democracy movement, with protesters often citing what they call the “Lion Rock Spirit.”

Mass police deployment

The small act of defiance on Wednesday evening came amid media reports of a mass police deployment planned for this Saturday, the second anniversary of another huge demonstration that saw police fire tear gas and violent clashes outside the city’s legislature.

Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.

Up to 1,000 officers are expected to be deployed across the city to prevent any unauthorised demonstrations, according to local media reports citing police sources. Replying to HKFP’s queries, the force said it will deploy “sufficient” personnel at “relevant locations… to quickly and decisively enforce the law.”

Democrats fear authorities are clamping down on all commemorations on the pretext of protecting public health during the Covid-19 pandemic. The city currently limits public gatherings to four people.

Thousands of police were on duty across the city last Friday to prevent Hongkongers from attending an annual candlelight vigil to commemorate the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre in Beijing, when troops crushed a student-led pro-democracy movement.

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Rhoda Kwan

Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.