ACTIVISM – Full Lowdown & Photos: Hong Kong’s July 1st 2013 Pro-Democracy Protests 14


Today, thousands of Hong Kongers hit the streets demanding full democracy in an annual protest against the local and national governments.

Demonstrators assembled in Victoria Park at 2:30pm and, in spite of ‘T3’ tropical storm warnings and intense heat, marched down Yee Wo Street to Hennessy Road and on to Statue Square in Central.

Icarus Wong Ho-ying of the organising body, the Civil Human Rights Front, told the SCMP that “the lives of Hongkongers have been getting worse, with an obvious example being the wide poverty gap.”

Today marks 16 years since the handover of sovereignty from Britain to China. In 2003, in the midst of the Asian Economic Crisis and SARS, up to a million people protested leading the eventual ousting of autonomous HK’s first leader.

According to a new Chinese University poll, 46% of people have no confidence in Chief Executive CY Leung’s leadership.

Many well-known faces, including serving politicians, were helping to rally attendees. Pictured below are Lee Cheuk-yan (trade union leader and LEGCO member), Leung Kwok-hung ‘Long Hair’ (activist and LEGCO member), Albert Ho (former leader of the Democratic Party and HK Alliance director) and Tsang Kin-shing (of Citizen’s Radio, also a former legislator).

Organisers of the protest estimated that 430,000 people turned out whilst, police made a comically low estimation of 33,500.

Hong Kong is home to probably the only protest which features an immaculately presented marching band (organised by the Falun Gong)…

Some protesters wielded variations of the British colonial flag – more an affront to Beijing than a genuine desire to see the British return. However, many in the city are nostalgic for the pre-1997 era and concerned about eroding civil liberties in the city…

A flag bearing the British coat of arms flutters in the rain in front of a statue of Queen Victoria…

The demonstration even had several choirs singing songs of resistance…

Heavy rain poured down between periods of intense humidity as a typhoon rolled into southern China from the Philippines…

The Apple Daily (Chinese) reported that 2,500 police officers were mobilised with 5 police stations readied to detain protesters. Fences were erected around HK’s four major banks and four MTR exits were closed in Central. At one point, police prevented more demonstrators from entering Victoria Park.

The Ming Pao (Chinese) reported that the authorities installed more CCTV cameras along the protest route. Surveillance cameras are unusual in Hong Kong and many privacy advocates questioned the move.

Every conceivable progressive civil group and NGO was present along the protest route. Many collected donations, gave out leaflets or rallies the crowds with chants and slogans…

Two flags that Beijing do like to see in any part of their country…

Possibly, the world’s first iPad protest placard? Only in Hong Kong…

Gay rights groups were campaigning for equal marriage…

Hong Kong’s Trade Unions were also present…

The Occupy Central 2014 movement were also out in force…

Livelihood issues also dominated this year’s protest with out-of-control rents and inflation affecting ordinary Hong Kongers

Hong Kong’s administration has been embroiled in scandal after the arrest of development chief Mak Chai-kwong and corruption allegations within HK’s own anti-corruption agency.

Suspicion of the mainland remains at an all-time high with many Hong Kongers still angry about ‘mainland mother‘ and parallel trader controversies which spawned an ‘anti-locust’ movement against visitors from China.

InMedia have very cleverly charted the different social and political groups and NGOs present along the protest route on this Google Map below. The voices were as diverse as usual, but the message of universal suffrage rang through stronger this year…

Key points from the week leading up to this year’s march:

  • CY Leung was humiliated at the HK Academy of Performing Arts as students repeatedly protested his presence at their graduation ceremony.
  • Leung released a 29-page document detailing his government’s supposed achievements.
  • There have been unprecedented attempts to dampen this year’s turnout with suspiciously timed shopping festivals – some stores offered large discounts during the specific times of the rally.
  • ‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok Hung received threatening calls warning him not to participate in today’s rally, according to the SCMP. He ignored them and took park as usual.
  • Meanwhile, ‘astro-turf’ mainland-backed groups staged counter-rallies in Tsim Sha Tsui in support of the government. Barely 100 attended, chanting their support for CY Leung.

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  • cheap music festival at the old Kai Tak site, featuring acts from Korea and also organised on the afternoon of the rally, attracted boycott calls. The venue was rented to the organisers for HK$1 and queues at the entrance stretched for 2km. TVB agreed to broadcast the event live, according to the Apple Daily (Chinese).
  • Cable TV (Chinese) reported that CY Leung said a public consultation on universal suffrage for 2017 will take place at an ‘appropriate time’.

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To better understand your protest rights in HK, download the Hong Kong Civil Liberties Union English leaflet here.

You can find more coverage of HK’s politics and the local resistance on the new Mega Index – scroll down to ‘politics’…

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