Thousands join rally amid general strike

September 03, 2019 14:00
More than 40,000 participated in a rally at Tamar Park on Monday, with people from over two dozen sectors joining calls for a general strike, the HKCTU says. Photo: Bloomberg

Thousands took part in a rally at Tamar Park in Admiralty on Monday, calling on the government to respond to people’s demands and also denouncing the alleged police brutality against anti-extradition bill protesters.

The rally, which would continue on Tuesday, was organized by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) and a cross-sector strike organizing group. Police had earlier issued a letter of no objection to the organizer.

The demonstration coincided with a two-day general strike covering businesses and class-boycott moves by students.

According to HKCTU chairperson Carol Ng Man-yee, more than 40,000 people joined the rally, with workers from nearly 29 different sectors joining calls for the strike and coming to the gathering.

Although rain caused a delay and the event could only begin sometime after 3 pm, it did not deter the enthusiasm of participants, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Sitting on the wet grass ground and chanting slogans such as “Hongkongers add oil!” and "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times", the crowd urged the government to respond to the five demands made by the public, including complete withdrawal of the extradition bill and allowing genuine universal suffrage.

Speaking to the crowd on the stage, Ng said she witnessed employees being fired, civilians being attacked, and people being arrested indiscriminately in recent months.

Sacking of workers or threats of dismissals will not prevent Hongkongers from giving up their spirit of fighting for betterment of society, she said.

Many of the rally participants accused rail operator MTR Corporation of siding with the police by shutting down stations and calling in officers to handle disturbances.

During the rally, some volunteer marshals said they found fluorescent powder on many participants’ clothes and on the lawns, apparently sprayed from the sky by a helicopter hovering above the park.

Ng said that if the government fails to respond to people’s five demands by a Sept. 13 deadline, it will not be ruled out that the strike action will be escalated.

Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, convenor of the pan-democratic camp, told the participants that Hongkongers don't just need a comfortable life of enough food and clothing and accommodation, they also want a life of dignity.

What people need the most now is genuine universal suffrage, she said.

In other comments, Mo said that Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor can quit on the ground of illness should Beijing be really refusing to let her step down.

After the rally, some of the participants walked to the Chief Executive’s Office and staged a protest there as the night fell, resulting in a confrontation with police.

The crowd eventually left the scene sometime after 8 pm.

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