The organisers of this year’s July 1 pro-democracy protest say that participants are welcome to join the march mid-way. It comes in defiance of earlier comments by the police commissioner, who said that it would be against the law.
Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) Convener Sammy Ip Chi-hin said on Thursday that the rally will begin at Victoria Park’s lawn in Causeway Bay, in accordance with requirements imposed by police. He said citizens do not need to worry about joining along the route, but advised against “unnecessary arguments and clashing with police.”
“Members of the CHRF Secretariat will join the march at different points on Hennessy Road, to show via example that Stephen Lo’s statement is false,” Ip said.
Earlier this month, Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung said that participants of the march could potentially be arrested for unlawful assembly if they do not comply with police instructions, namely to join the march at its starting point only. The CHRF’s appeal against the police’s decision was quickly dismissed.
Following internal discussion, the CHRF said on Thursday that they do not advise participants to engage in civil disobedience, saying there is “no need to make sacrifices or break the law.” Ip added that the event was traditionally peaceful and will remain so.
Pan-democratic allies of the CHRF also urged Lo to apologise and retract his warning, with ex-lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung comparing it to “intimidation.”
Similar to last year’s march, the student unions of several Hong Kong universities will not be joining the march. President of the University of Hong Kong’s Student Union Davin Wong told In-Media that the theme for this year’s march – “End one-party rule, reject Hong Kong’s decline” – was inconsistent with their political platform of prioritising Hong Kong over China.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu said on Thursday that the theme was very relevant to Hong Kong.
“Over the past year, the roadmap of the Chinese Communist Party was to import Chinese-style politics – like having a government unconstrained by law – into Hong Kong,” Chu said. “The pro-democracy bloc is almost forced into being a Chinese opposition party.”
The CHRF and pan-democrats called upon citizens to take to the streets, citing various livelihood grievances including “ridiculous” instances where government officials abused their power, as well as recent MTR scandals.
“Even if you don’t want real universal suffrage, at least protest against fake railroads,” Leung said.