'Human chain' a tune-up for weekend rallies in HK

'Human chain' a tune-up for weekend rallies in HK

Demonstrators expected to return to airport on Saturday despite injunction

Protesters hold hands to form a human chain during a rally to call for political reforms at the Avenue of Stars in Hong Kong on Friday night. (Reuters Photo)
Protesters hold hands to form a human chain during a rally to call for political reforms at the Avenue of Stars in Hong Kong on Friday night. (Reuters Photo)

HONG KONG: Protesters geared up on Friday evening for a 12th straight weekend of demonstrations that have rocked Hong Kong and raised questions about its future as a regional financial hub.

Demonstrators are looking to maintain momentum after large but peaceful protests last weekend broke a pattern of tear gas and police clashes. New rallies began on Friday afternoon, and as night fell demonstrators tried to form a human chain across the city.

Historic mass marches opposing legislation easing extraditions to China began peacefully in June, and have since widened into a broader movement against Beijing’s increasing grip.

Friday’s protest came on the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way, when about 2 million people in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania formed a human chain stretching 676 kilometres. That demonstration was meant to peacefully protest against the forceful incorporation of their countries into the Soviet Union, paving the way for the three to regain independence over the following two years.

As thousands of protesters lined the streets in Hong Kong, holding hands to form a human chain, some yelled, “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” A group headed up to the iconic Lion Rock peak, while others took to tourist hotspots and the business district.

On Saturday, protesters plan a morning “airport transport infrastructure” disruption, including potentially blocking roads, followed by an afternoon march in the Kwun Tong area of Kowloon.

A Hong Kong court on Friday extended the Airport Authority’s court order barring protests. The authority obtained the temporary injunction last week to stop protesters from “unlawfully and willfully” obstructing or interfering with the proper use of the airport, following two straight days of sit-ins that shut down regular services and left frustrated passengers stranded and delayed.

The weekend will conclude with Sunday protests in the Tsuen Wan and Kwai Chung areas, starting in mid-afternoon. Relatives of police also plan a march to the official residence of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam in support of local law enforcement.

In a related development, The UK consulate-general in Hong Kong said it had not been able to make contact with detained consulate employee Simon Cheng, 28, despite efforts to raise his case “repeatedly” in China, Hong Kong and London.

“We continue to urgently seek further information about Simon’s case,” the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement.

The Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper reported on Thursday that Simon Cheng had been put in administrative detention on suspicion of soliciting prostitutes, citing Shenzhen police. Cheng’s family hit back at the report, writing on Facebook that “everyone can take this as a joke.” Cheng told the police not to notify his family about his detention, the newspaper alleged.


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