Three political and grassroots groups in Hong Kong have applied to police for the right to organise the annual July 1 demonstration, just days after its traditional organiser, the Civil Human Rights Front, said it was cancelled.

Lam Chun, Tin Shui Wai Connection, Eddit Tse, Save Lantau Alliance, and Chan Po-ying of League of Social Democrats
Lam Chun of Tin Shui Wai Connection (left), Eddit Tse of Save Lantau Alliance (centre), and Chan Po-ying of League of Social Democrats (right). Photo: League of Social Democrats via Facebook.

Representatives from League of Social Democrats, Save Lantau Alliance and Tin Shui Wai Connection submitted an application on Friday morning for police approval to organise the march.

The July 1 march was – since 2003 – an annual flagship demonstration in Hong Kong. It was traditionally coordinated by pro-democracy protest coalition Civil Human Rights Front, but the group announced on Sunday it would not organise the procession this year as it was considering disbanding. It has faced scrutiny from the police and China-owned media over its legality and finances in recent months, and dozens of its member groups have quit as a result. The Front’s last convener, Figo Chan, is remanded in custody after admitting to unauthorised assembly offences related to the 2019 protests.

Chan Po-ying of League of Social Democrats met reporters alongside Eddie Tse of Save Lantau Alliance and Lam Chun of Tin Shui Wai Connection as they awaited the police’s approval of a no objection letter.

protest march five demands 1 July 2020 causeway bay
File Photo: May James/HKFP.

Chan said the trio of groups hoped to continue the tradition started by the CHRF despite increasing restrictions faced by the pan-democrat camp. She said she expected the police to cite Covid-19 social distancing concerns and may require the march to be limited to groups of four people, although the group indicated a turnout of 10,000 on its application.

Keeping tradition alive

“We hope to forge a sense of unity during the July 1 march and hope that more Hongkongers will come out to deliver the message that our hearts have not died, and we will persist,” Chan said.

Chan Po-ying
Chan Po-ying speaking outside the Wan Chai District Court after 10 democrats received sentences to up to 18 months in jail on May 28, 2021. File Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Tse of Save Lantau Alliance, an environmental conservation group, said he believes the July 1 procession is an important tradition through which voice can be given to a diversity of demands from Hong Kong people to the government, including that for democracy.

“As a grassroots group, we cherish the value of marching on July 1,” Tse said. “We must not let this stop.”

Lam, of the localist Tin Shui Wai Connection, urged other organisations who traditionally were part of the July 1 procession to participate.

“We will lose even more in the future, we will gradually lose our freedoms and rights, so we hope we can keep up this tradition and march on the streets on this July 1,” Lam said.

Carrie Lam in Beijing

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam will miss out on the city’s July 1 celebrations for the first time. Instead, she will travel to Beijing to attend the Chinese Communist Party’s 100th anniversary celebrations with dozens of pro-government figures, broadcaster NowTV reported.

july 1 carrie lam
Carrie Lam. File Photo: GovHK.

The mission headed by Lam will include the president of the legislature, Andrew Leung, and DAB party chief Starry Lee, the broadcaster reported.

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.