Hundreds of thousands of people took part in a march organized by Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) on Hong Kong Island on Sunday afternoon, to press their demands that the government withdraw the extradition bill altogether and set up an independent commission to look into recent clashes between police and protesters.
The CHRF said around 430,000 people joined the protest, while police estimated the crowd at 138,000 at the peak, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Starting from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay at 3:30 p.m., marchers held placards and chanted slogans as they headed toward the destination near Southorn Playground in Wan Chai, which was sanctioned by police.
Although police set up roadblocks at the end point and called on the demonstrators to proceed to Wan Chai MTR Station and disperse, many of them refused and insisted on continuing to move forward.
Police then quickly retreated. Several hundreds of the protesters remained on the road opposite the police headquarters in Wan Chai but dispersed later at night. Others marched toward Central and Admiralty, as well as Beijing’s Liaison Office in Sai Wan.
Later, clashes broke out between demonstrators and police officers in the Sheung Wan area.
Meanwhile, the government headquarters, the Legislative Council complex and the Chief Executive’s Office in Admiralty were all on high alert and heavily guarded. Police enclosed the buildings with water barriers 2 meters tall.
Asked by reporters why many marchers refused to listen to police instructions and disband in Wan Chai, CHRF convener Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit said they might have done so had police agreed to their proposal to end the march on Chater Road in Central since there would be more routes available for marchers to leave.
The march was the sixth of its kind organized by the group against the extradition bill, said CHRF deputy convenor Figo Chan Ho-hang, CHRF’s deputy convenor, and the fact that many people were still joining it means that Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor cannot go on ignoring their demands.
If Lam doesn’t change her attitude, the CHRF will stage more demonstrations, including one on Aug. 31, the fifth year since the National People’s Congress Standing Committee announced its decision on the selection of the chief executive by universal suffrage and the method of forming the Legislative Council.
In related news, several thousands of social workers marched in silence on Sunday morning from Southorn Playground to the government headquarters to protest the administration’s handling of the crisis stemming from the extradition bill.
The marchers criticized Lam for trying to pass the buck by claiming that counseling services are needed to ease the negative social mood, stressing that political problems should be solved in political ways.
Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung called on the government to respond to the five demands made by the public as soon as possible.
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