Protests in Hong Kong that broke out in June over a now-shelved extradition bill have entered their 11th consecutive week, with a series of events over the weekend that included a peaceful mass demonstration Sunday that organizers said was attended by as many as 1.7 million people.
Carrying both signs and umbrellas, protesters gathered in Victoria Park for a rally organized by the Civil Human Rights Front—a coalition that also planned previous mass demonstrations—before marching through the city’s streets. The Sunday rally, but not the marching, had approval from local police, which said that only 128,000 attended the rally.
“The Civil Human Rights Front reiterated the five demands of the anti-extradition law movement,” Hong Kong Free Press reported Sunday. “They called for a full withdrawal of the controversial bill and a retraction of characterization of protests as ‘riots.’ They urged for the unconditional release of all arrested protesters, the formation of an independent commission of inquiry into all events since June, and demanded universal suffrage.”
Some protesters also have demanded the resignation of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who quickly suspended the extradition bill after it sparked intense backlash and alarm about what the measure could mean for critics of China. A former British colony, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 and is now a special administrative region (SAR) operating under a “one country, two systems” policy that protesters have argued was threatened by the extradition bill.
“The Hong Kong government must immediately withdraw the extradition law amendments, ensure the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, and allow an independent investigation into the use of force by Hong Kong police against protesters.”
—Man-Kei Tam, Amnesty International Hong Kong
“I came here for the future of Hong Kong and the next generation of Hong Kong. The government has not responded to our demands,” Amy Bau, a 41-year-old sign language teacher, told The New York Times. “I have come out to march many times, and I will keep coming out if the government continues to not answer us.”
“We want the government to listen to us, withdraw the extradition bill, and also have an independent panel investigating police abuse and those officers should be stood down,” another protester told CNN. “All these two months we have gone through a lot but we should not lose hope and we should keep fighting.”
Though the scattered demonstrations Saturday and major protest Sunday were mostly peaceful and not met with crackdowns by police—despite demonstrators defying the marching ban Sunday—photos and videos of clashes between protesters and police in recent weeks have provoked concerns from local and global human rights advocates.
“The people of Hong Kong have once again demonstrated their resolve by taking part in a peaceful demonstration against a proposed extradition bill,” Amnesty International Hong Kong director Man-Kei Tam said in a statement Sunday, in response to the massive turnout over the weekend.
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