Some 2,000 people gathered in Hong Kong for a peaceful rally on Wednesday to denounce Cathay Pacific Airways for firing airline employees who participated in or support the pro-democracy rallies that have been ongoing on the island city since early June.

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions said so far Cathay Pacific Airways has dismissed or forced to resign 20 of its staff for their links to the pro-democracy protests. These include pilots, cabin crew, and airline managers.

The Confederation called for the rally following the dismissal of Cathay Dragon Airlines Flight Attendants Association head Rebecca Sy.

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Sy said she was given no reason for her dismissal and expressed her concern for the loss of freedom of speech. “Where’s the freedom of speech? Or democracy?,” said Sy.

From the rally stage, Sy called “Free Hong Kong” in Cantonese and then in English.

“Is Hong Kong really dying or is already dead?” she asked. Sy said she felt saddened by her dismissal, expressing concern that she could no longer help her colleagues because she is the union leader.

Then she added that she could still help her colleagues by telling everyone what has been happening. “I will tell the truth,” said Sy.

“Revoke termination, stop terrorizing CX staff” and “Uphold our freedom of speech” were the key messages written on a huge black banner at the rally site. CX refers to the airline code for Cathay Pacific.

Protesters colored the green airline logo red and added a golden star to it to mimic the Chinese communist flag.

Speaking in Cantonese, 20-year-old university student Samuel Auyeung said he joined the rally to denounce Cathay Pacific for dismissing its employees because of their comments on Facebook.

“There shouldn’t be such a white terror like this,” said Auyeung.

Cathay Pacific Airways confirmed that it has dismissed several employees during the past two weeks.

The airline gave vague reasons for the dismissals, for example, that one pilot was sacked for misusing company information, or another is in legal proceedings. but no mention was made if they was linked to the protests.

One Cathay Pacific pilot was charged with rioting during a rally.

Cathay Pacific, 30 percent owned by Air China, became entangled in crosswinds between the Chinese communist regime and the pro-democracy movement in Asia’s financial hub, after some of its employees joined in the pro-democracy protests.

Chinese aviation authorities reacted to pressure Cathay Pacific by banning cabin crew from mainland flights if they support “illegal protests.”

Earlier this month, Cathay Pacific’s Chief Executive Officer Rupert Hogg resigned, amid mounting pressure from Chinese authorities over the involvement of its staff in the pro-democracy protests.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) denounced the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests and warned the United States and Britain against interfering in the Hong Kong situation.

On Monday, Aug. 26, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam declared that authorities would use law enforcement to “stamp out that violence.”

“We will adopt one yardstick, one yardstick in dealing with all forms of violence,” said an unyielding Lam. “If violence continues the only thing that we should do is to stamp out that violence through law enforcement actions.”

The summer protests were triggered by the proposed extradition bill that would allow the CCP to extradite suspects to mainland China for prosecution.

Many Hong Kong residents see the controversial bill as a growing encroachment of the CCP on their rights and on their existing separate legal system under the “one country, two systems” principle.