Hong Kong Politics & Protest

In Pictures: Organisers say 60,000 attend Hong Kong democracy rally; police say 14,500 attended

Hong Kong protesters marched through summer rain brandishing colourful art and props in Hong Kong Saturday, expressing their fears the city and its freedoms are being eaten up by China. Organisers, the Civil Human Rights Front, say 60,000 attended the annual rally, whilst police put the figure at 14,500.

july 1 democracy march rally protest

Photo: HKFP.

The march came hours after President Xi Jinping flew out after a three-day trip to mark 20 years since Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain.

See also: ?HK20 LIVE: 20 years since Hong Kong’s Handover – Pomp & protests during Xi Jinping’s visit

xi jinping carrie lam

Chief Executive Carrie Lam bids farewell to Xi Jinping. Photo: GovHK.

There were sporadic arrests and scuffles during his landmark stay but protesters were given little space to make their voices heard in the midst of an unprecedented security lockdown.

liu xiaobo july 1 democracy march rally protest

Photo: HKFP.

On Saturday afternoon, they were free to express themselves once more as they marched through central Hong Kong from Victoria Park to government offices.

july 1 democracy march rally protest

Photo: HKFP.

One protester carried a cardboard cutout of Xi holding a yellow umbrella — symbol of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement which brought parts of the city to a standstill.

xi jinping july 1 democracy march rally protest

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Others waved pro-independence and colonial British flags, which have become an anti-China emblem.

independence july 1 democracy march rally protest

Photo: HKFP.

Rows of punch bags were mounted with the head of Hong Kong’s unpopular ex-leader Leung Chun-ying, who was replaced by incoming chief executive Carrie Lam Saturday.

Some protesters carried a cardboard model of a toilet picturing Leung’s face on the lid and Lam’s face in the bowl, covered with excrement.

police july 1 democracy march rally protest

Photo: HKFP.

“It’s not straightforward to get what we want by just protesting, especially from this heartless government,” said teacher Charlton Cheung, in his 40s.

free expression

Photo: HKFP.

“But we need to persist to show our fellow citizens we have a shared vision. Maybe one day we will be in big enough numbers that the government can’t ignore,” he added.

july 1 democracy march rally protest

A Chinese character representing “death.” Photo: HKFP.

Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee, one of five publishers of salacious titles about Beijing leaders who went missing in 2015 and resurfaced in detention on the mainland, joined the rally.

carrie lam july 1 democracy march rally protest

Photo: HKFP.

Lam has been in Hong Kong since ducking bail last year and revealing how he had been seized, blindfolded and detained for eight months without a lawyer.

carrie lam july 1 democracy march rally protest

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

The booksellers’ case tapped into deep seated fears over how far China is reaching into Hong Kong and curbing freedoms.

xi jinping agnes chow demosisto july 1 democracy march rally protest

Photo: HKFP.

“We are seeing the power of the police getting bigger, while the rights of the people are only getting smaller,” legislator and activist Nathan Law told AFP.

independence july 1 democracy march rally protest

A prominent theme in this year’s march was the call for the release of cancer-stricken Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was given medical parole earlier this week but is still on the mainland.

one country july 1 democracy march rally protest

Photo: HKFP.

Social worker Ceci Chan, in her 30s, said life was “difficult” for Hong Kongers and that Xi should not have hidden behind security barricades if he wanted to connect with residents.

independence july 1 democracy march rally protest

Photo: HKFP.

“Hong Kong is a very great city. It’s not good for anyone for it to just become any Chinese city,” she said.

Additional reporting: Tom Grundy.

In Pictures: Organisers say 60,000 attend Hong Kong democracy rally; police say 14,500 attended