Hong Kong Protesters Return to Streets
Thousands of pro-democracy activists returned to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday for their first big rally since mass protests last year.
The number of protesters – estimated by organizers at 13,000 but by police at half that figure - was far lower than the earlier demonstrations. Their key demand is fully democratic elections for the territory’s leader, BBC reported.
A large police presence was in force to prevent demonstrators from occupying key areas of Hong Kong. But the protesters did not carry out a repeat of the occupations that shut down parts of the city for more than two months last year.
Chinese authorities have promised Hong Kongers the right to vote for their chief executive in 2017, but ruled that the nominees would have to be selected by a pro-Beijing committee.
The officials cleared the final protest camps in December. The group was also known as Umbrella Movement; it occupied several major city intersections and brought roads to a standstill.
Last year’s demonstrations at their peak were attended by tens of thousands of people from across the country. There were later violent clashes with police.
The protesters were watched by about 2,000 police officers as soon as they began their march through the city’s uptown shopping and financial districts.
Protester Julia Choi told the AP news agency that pro-democracy candidates “would not even be nominated, so this is pseudo-universal suffrage, we do not have the rights to elect who we want”.
Many demonstrators carried yellow umbrellas - the symbol of the political campaign. A large banner caricaturing Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung read: “Reject fake democracy, we want real universal suffrage.”