الإثنين , أغسطس 2 2021

Hong Kong crowds rally for democracy

Tens of thousands of residents joined the annual pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong Tuesday, July 1, 2014.The demonstration brought large parts of Hong Kong to a standstill

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken part in what organisers say could be Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy rally in more than a decade.

The annual rally, marking the day Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, was to demand full electoral freedom.

It came after an unofficial referendum on how to choose Hong Kong’s next chief executive drew close to 800,000 votes.

China says it will introduce universal suffrage for the 2017 election – but wants the final say over who can run.

The Hong Kong government said the 10-day referendum had no legal standing.



Hong Kong protestors

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Organisers were hoping more than half a million people would attend, as Juliana Liu reports

Organisers expected more than half a million people to join Monday’s rally from Victoria Park to the city’s Central district. Roads around the park were closed off and footage showed key roads jammed with marchers.

Several campaign groups indicated that they would stage peaceful overnight vigils after the march.

Reports said protesters were still in the park as the first marchers arrived in Central four hours later, giving an idea of the scale of the rally.

By early evening police estimated that some 92,000 people had set off from Victoria Park, reported the South China Morning Post (subscription). Organisers counted more than three times that number. Reports said other marchers joined the rally en route to Central.

Security was tight, with around 4,000 police officers on patrol.

A rally in 2003 drew half a million people, who demonstrated against proposed anti-subversion laws which were later scrapped.

Pro-democracy activists display placards before a pro-democracy rally seeking greater democracy in Hong Kong on 1 July, 2014 as frustration grows over the influence of Beijing on the cityActivists called for greater democracy in Hong Kong

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters gather to march in the streets to demand universal suffrage in Hong Kong on 1 July, 2014Protesters filled Victoria Park, where the march began

Pro-democracy supporters show thumbs-up signs during a kickoff ceremony of an referendum on democracy under a plan of Occupy-style protest in Hong Kong on Friday, 20 June, 2014The rally comes days after 800,000 people voted in an unofficial referendum on universal suffrage

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At the scene: Juliana Liu, BBC News, Hong Kong

Chanting “genuine democracy” and “CY Leung step down”, tens of thousands braved the heat and rain to march for full voting rights.

CY Leung, the current chief executive, was elected in 2012 by a committee of just 1,200 members, who were believed to be largely loyal to the Chinese government. The protesters fear that in 2017 the shortlist of candidates to replace him will selected by a similar group, making universal suffrage essentially meaningless.

But that is exactly what is likely to happen, unless there is some kind of compromise.

A senior Hong Kong government official told reporters recently that the next chief executive must be appointed by Beijing.

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‘Stability, prosperity’

Speaking earlier at a ceremony to mark the 17th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to China, Hong Kong leader CY Leung said that the government was trying hard to forge a consensus on political reform.

“Only by maintaining Hong Kong’s stability can we sustain our economic prosperity. Only by sustaining Hong Kong’s prosperity can we improve people’s livelihoods,” Mr Leung said.

The unofficial referendum, organised by campaign group Occupy Central, allowed the public to decide which of three proposals – all of which involved allowing citizens to directly nominate candidates – to present to Beijing.

Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 following a 1984 agreement between China and Britain.

China agreed to govern Hong Kong under the principle of “one country, two systems”, where the city would enjoy “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs” for 50 years.

As a result, Hong Kong has its own legal system, and rights including freedom of assembly and free speech are protected.

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