Thousands of senior citizens took to the streets on Wednesday, demonstrating their solidarity with the young protesters who have been leading the fight against the extradition bill.
Organizers said over 9,000 mostly elderly people joined the protest, but police estimated the crowd at 1,500 at the peak, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The march, which began at Chater Garden in Central, saw the grey-haired participants holding placards and chanting slogans on their way to the government headquarters in Admiralty.
They said they wanted not only to express their opposition to the now-suspended legislative proposal that would allow extradition to mainland China, but also to voice anger at the police over the use of excessive force against protesters over the past weeks.
The elderly protesters also joined the call for the government to set up an independent commission that would look into the violent clashes between police and protesters.
The marchers included veterans of the pro-democracy struggle such as Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, one of the three founders of the 2014 Occupy movement; lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung of the Labour Party; lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung of the Neighbourhood and Worker’s Service Centre; and disqualified lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats.
Chu, 75, said the march of the elderly was the first of its kind in Hong Kong’s history of social movements.
Although old people have not been on the frontlines of recent protests against the extradition bill, they have always shared the sentiments of the young activists and wanted to show their support with real action, he said.
Chu urged Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to respond to the people’s demands regarding the extradition issue as soon as possible, instead of just letting police and demonstrators battle it out in the streets.
He stressed that peace can only come after justice is served.
The marchers held a 20-meter-long banner that read “Objection to system violence. I want genuine universal suffrage” in Chinese as they chanted, “Carrie Lam, step down!”
Leung Kwok-hung said Lam was the core of all the problems surrounding the extradition bill debacle as she continued to refuse to completely scrap the extradition bill, although she has suspended it and called it “dead”.
Actress Deanie Ip Tak-han, 71, who has been supporting the pro-democracy movement since the 2014 Occupy protests, also joined the march.
Ip praised the young activists for having done the right things in recent demonstrations against the extradition bill.
Yeung Po-hi, one of the organizers of the march, said she hoped everyone, including the police and the young protesters, would eventually get along, but peace can only be achieved if the government responds to the people’s demands.
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