Hong Kong Law & Crime Politics & Protest

In Pictures: 800,000 Hongkongers attend pro-democracy march, say organisers

Hong Kong saw yet another massive street protest on Sunday, which ended peacefully despite heightened tensions between demonstrators and police in Central.

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Photo: Tam Ming Keung/United Social Press.

The streets from Causeway Bay to Central were packed with demonstrators of all ages, as well as families and black-clad protesters.

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Photo: May James/HKFP.

March organiser, the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), estimated that around 800,000 attended.

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Photo: May James/HKFP.

Police put the peak turnout figure at 183,000.

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Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Sunday’s protest coincided with the half-year mark of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement, which was sparked in June by the now-withdrawn extradition bill.

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Photo: May James/HKFP.

It was also the first CHRF march since July that received a green light from law enforcement – coming after police banned multiple events proposed by the group.

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Photo: May James/HKFP.

Speaking after the march ended, Jimmy Sham of the CHRF said that the turnout was a sign that the Hong Kong public have not yet been placated.

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Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

“We hope that Chief Executive Carrie Lam will set up a bona fide independent commission of inquiry,” Sham said, adding that the turnout – despite being lower than previous marches – was nevertheless satisfactory.

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Photo: May James/HKFP.

Sham also criticised the heavy police deployment after nightfall, which he said was “unnecessary” and made participants “nervous” despite joining a legally sanctioned event.

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“Don’t forget the original intentions, after just winning a small battle.” Photo: May James/HKFP.

See also: HKFP Lens: Six months on, Hongkongers pack the streets again in peaceful mass pro-democracy demo

Photo: May James/HKFP.

While Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement showed signs of escalating violence last month, the march on Sunday did not see any major physical clashes.

At the march, protesters shouted slogans such as “Five demands, not one less” and “Disband the police force now.” A protester who gave her name as Angeline told HKFP that she was frustrated that the police did not face any form of accountability.

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Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

“Thousands of our younger generation have been arrested, but we don’t see even a single police officer suspended,” she told HKFP. “It has been six months, but nobody throughout the government has taken any personal responsibility, or faced any consequences for their actions.”

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Protester Nicho said that universal suffrage should remain a top priority for the movement. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Another young protester, Nicho, told HKFP that he believed the most important demand of the movement was universal suffrage. “It’s been talked about for so long… universal suffrage is probably the best solution, because it will give the people of Hong Kong a better mandate to sort out their issues,” he said.

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Photo: May James/HKFP.

In a statement, the government said that the march was “largely peaceful and orderly,” but noted that there were still unlawful and violent acts.

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Photo: Tam Ming Keung/United Social Press.

On Sunday evening, protesters threw petrol bombs outside the High Court and the Court of Final Appeal, and defaced the exterior wall of the High Court, according to the government. The acts were condemned by the police, the CHRF, the Department of Justice and the government.

“The arson… not only disrupted social peace, but also undermined Hong Kong’s reputation as a city governed by the rule of law,” the government said in a statement. “The government will not condone any acts of sabotage against the judiciary or damage to the rule of law.”

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Photo: May James/HKFP.

Both fires were relatively small and were put out within minutes. No injuries were reported.

Graffiti was spotted on the exterior of the High Court, which read: “If there is no rule of law, what is the use of courts?” In recent months, protesters have expressed growing discontent with the local courts, saying that judges have subjected arrested protesters to harsh bail conditions.

Standoff in Central

Massive crowds were seen departing from the Central Lawn of Victoria Park from around 3pm until after dusk.

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Photo: May James/HKFP.

However, many had skipped ahead and occupied Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay.

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Photo: May James/HKFP.

Police displayed warning flags multiple times – including a warning that tear gas may be used – but the march continued without incident.

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Photo: May James/HKFP.

At the march endpoint, some protesters occupied Pottinger Street and Des Voeux Road Central, which led to a tense standoff with a heavy police presence.

During the evening, police stationed a water cannon truck and an armoured truck outside the Hang Seng Bank headquarters. Protesters urged each other to retreat.

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Photo: May James/HKFP.

Police said that the protesters were “participating in an unlawful assembly” and some “held weapons” in their hands.

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Protesters donned ponchos upon sight of the water cannon truck. Photo: May James/HKFP.

At around 10pm, police started to clear the makeshift barricades on Des Voeux Road Central, which had already been abandoned as protesters dispersed.

In a statement, police added that “violent protesters” vandalised shops and a bank in Causeway Bay and Wan Chai.

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Photo: May James/HKFP.

While scenes of mass arrests did not appear on Sunday, police conducted a widespread stop-and-search operation that spanned the city.

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Photo: May James/HKFP.

After dark, riot police were spotted detaining people at ferry piers, MTR stations, transport hubs and streets.

HKFP witnessed riot police arrest at least one protester dressed in black in Causeway Bay, who appeared to be walking along the street without participating in criminal activity. He was led away on a police van after officers searched his belongings. Other arrests were also reported in districts such as Central.

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Photo: May James/HKFP.

Calls for a mass, city-wide strike on Monday have been promoted online, though it is unclear if rush hour transport links may be affected in the morning.

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A banner promoting the newly formed union for freelancers. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Some protesters handed out flyers on Sunday which advertised dozens of newly formed industry-specific unions. A protester affiliated with the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) told HKFP that the unions would be useful in organising strikes, as well as promoting a “golden economic circle” – an informal coalition of pro-democracy businesses.


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In Pictures: 800,000 Hongkongers attend pro-democracy march, say organisers