The organisers of Hong Kong’s annual July 1 democracy march have applied to begin the event at a number of streets in Causeway Bay, after they were barred from using their usual starting point of Victoria Park.
Civil Human Rights Front convener Au Nok-hin told reporters on Monday he was liaising with the police to start the march outside the Central Library, as well as on Great George Street and on East Point Road.
Au said that he did not have a special preference for any one of the three locations. He added that the Front would have discussions with the police on Wednesday regarding the starting locations and route of the march.
The Front earlier applied to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) for the central lawn and bandstand areas of Victoria Park, but has not yet received a reply.
The pro-Beijing Hong Kong Celebrations Association will be taking over the traditional rallying point – Victoria Park’s six football courts – for the first time since the inception of the annual rally in 2003.
The association will be holding a science and technology exhibition as part of a series of events celebrating the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China. The LCSD granted the association the use of the courts because it had priority as a registered charity according to the department’s guidelines.
Executive chairman Cheng Yiu-tong said at a Monday press conference that it was the first time the association was granted the use of Victoria Park.
“From an fairness perspective, why don’t you be fair to us? Can’t our association use the venue for the very first time?”
“I must emphasise that we never grabbed the venue. [The Front] can still apply to use the lawn,” he said. “We are applying for the venue in accordance with procedures.”
Cheng added that the association would hold some 530 different activities across Hong Kong to celebrate the handover anniversary, which are expected to attract a total of 1 million visitors.
The rejection of the Front’s application for the Victoria Park football courts came amid rumours that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit for three days ending on July 1.
The democracy rally has been held on every anniversary of the handover since 2003, when some 500,000 Hongkongers demanded that then-chief executive Tung Chee-hwa step down.