Returned bookseller Lam Wing-kee will lead the annual pro-democracy march organised by the Civil Humans Rights Front on July 1, alongside two other Hongkongers who were arrested and jailed on the mainland for political reasons in the past.
Lam recently returned to Hong Kong following eight months of detention for sending “banned” books from Hong Kong to the mainland. He denied this was illegal and says he was unjustly detained.
Veteran commentator Ching Cheong was jailed for some 1,000 days in 2005 for alleged espionage crimes while working for Singaporean newspaper The Straits Times, and activist Lau Shan-ching was jailed for ten years in 1981 for helping Chinese activists in Guangzhou.
The Front’s convener Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit said they were invited because they showed bravery in resisting the Chinese authoritarian regime.
“The three of them worked many years for democracy, freedom and human rights, and they were jailed and stripped of their freedoms because they were brave enough to speak up,” Sham said.
The march’s main theme will be to speak out against Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s re-election and support an overruling of the decision made by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee in 2014 for Beijing to vet Chief Executive candidates.
The Front expects around 100,000 to attend the march, which will start from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay at 3pm and end near a bus stop on Harcourt Road. Sham said there will be a stage for people to speak but they did not plan to stay long. The Harcourt Road area in Admiralty was the main flashpoint of the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.
Sham added the Front was disappointed that the government rejected its application to use “Civic Square” – the square at government headquarters – as the endpoint, based on security reasons.
Street stands will be up along the march for groups and political parties to promote themselves and raise funds. But some localist groups, which will not walk with the march, planned to set up stands at the march, sparking controversy.
“If they do not agree [with the march], why should they come and set up a stand?” Sham said.
But Sham added that the Front will not interfere with the groups.
Deputy convener Jackie Hung Ling-yu said the groups, namely Youngspiration, Civic Passion and Proletariat Political Institute, had not coordinated with the Front over their stands. She urged the groups to notify the Front to avoid potential conflicts with other groups that will set up stands at their locations.
Meanwhile, localist groups Hong Kong Indigenous, Hong Kong National Party and Youngspiration will host a rally at the China Liaison Office that day at 7pm, “in order to show the public opinion and anger towards the authoritarian regime.”
They hailed Lam Wing-kee as a hero for speaking up, and urged the public to show up and act against the “Chinese government kidnapping Hong Kong people.”
The groups said they did not apply for a letter of no objection from the police.