Thousands of pro-democracy protesters hit the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday, Aug. 11, in a continuing series of demonstrations that have generally started peacefully but often ended in violent clashes with police.
Activists calling for greater democratic freedoms in the city have shown no sign of standing down, despite Hong Kong’s leader insisting she will not meet their demands.
Early Sunday afternoon, hundreds of protesters were gathered in the city’s Victoria Park, braving hot and humid conditions and a police ban on the demonstration following a planned march route from the park.
“The police should try their best to maintain public security instead of rejecting our request to march,” Wong, a 25-year-old girl said. “We’re still here … and we’ll see if we feel like marching later. We won’t worry that much about illegal assembly. We still have our rights.”
“It will be no good for Hong Kong if everyone is scared and no one dares to come out,” Wong said. “We should have freedom from fear.”
Hannah Yu, an organizer, said the protest would provide a platform for people to rally peacefully. In what has become an established pattern, groups of protesters have taken over streets or besieged government buildings after largely peaceful marches and rallies earlier in the day.
Protesters said they were adopting a new strategy to try to minimize direct confrontations with police.
“Our aim is no injuries, no bleeding and not getting arrested,” Chan, a 17-year-old student said. “I think our previous tactics of staying in one place led to many arrests and injuries. … We need to ‘be water’ to avoid injuries.”
Protesters were also on their third and final day of a sit-in at the city’s airport that was billed as way to explain their movement to sometimes bemused visitors.
The demonstrations that began more than two months ago in opposition to a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China have morphed into a broader bid to reverse a slide in democratic freedoms in the city.
The movement has been seen as the biggest threat to Beijing’s rule of the semi-autonomous Chinese city since its handover from the British in 1997.