Update: July 1, 11:20 p.m. HKT
Organizers of Hong Kong’s annual march on July 1 said that over 550,000 people took part, breaking the record in 2014 when 510,000 Hongkongers came out to demand universal suffrage in electing the city’s top official.
The Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI) gave different estimates. It said at least 374,000 was marching through the Arsenal Street during the peak.
A spokesperson for the Hong Kong government has responded with strong words to a group of protesters who broke into the legislature building by smashing glass doors earlier in the evening.
“Some radical protesters stormed the Legislative Council Complex with extreme violence. These protesters seriously jeopardized the safety of police officers and members of the public. Such violent acts are unacceptable to society,” according to a statement.
“Hong Kong is a society that respects the rule of law, and has never tolerated violence. Protesters who resort to violence must stop their acts immediately,” the unnamed spokesperson said in an earlier statement, adding that the police will “take appropriate enforcement action to protect public order and safety.” The government had sent out a red alert asking everyone to leave the building.
The city’s Hospital Authority said so far 43 people have been injured in clashes with the police. 37 have since been discharged from the hospital. At least two are still being treated.
Update: July 1, 8:45 p.m. HKT
Falun Gong Practitioners Take Part in Hong Kong Anniversary March
The anniversary march is still ongoing, four hours after it started when protesters began marching from Victoria Park.
At around 7 p.m. local time, Hong Kong media RTHK reported that the last segment of the march had reached an area near SOGO department store at Causeway Bay.
Many protesters decided not to travel to Victoria Park to join the march. Instead, they joined from different streets connecting to Hennessy Road, the scheduled march route connecting Victoria Park and Chater Road, the end point of the march.
At Victoria Park, there were a handful of protesters voluntarily cleaning up the trash left behind.
At the Legislative Council (LegCo), a group of protesters have broken through a glass door and entered the building. According to RTHK, police officers inside the building are armed with guns that can fire tear gas and bean bags.
Also taking part in the anniversary march were practitioners of Falun Gong, who are raising awareness of the ongoing persecution in China.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual practice with meditative exercises and moral teachings based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. The practice became enormously popular by the late 1990s, with official estimates putting the number of adherents at about 70 to 100 million in China.
However, former Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin viewed the group’s popularity as a threat to his rule. On July 20, 1999, Jiang launched a country-wide persecution to round up practitioners and throw them into prisons, brainwashing centers, labor camps, and psychiatric wards—in an effort to force them to abandon their faith.
Update: July 1, 5:48 p.m. HKT
Anniversary March in Hong Kong Continues As Protesters Demand Government Withdraw Extradition Bill
At around 3 p.m. local time, thousands of protesters began their march across Hong Kong, demanding that the local government withdraw a controversial extradition bill.
The march is still ongoing. At present there is no official estimate of the number of people taking part from either the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), organizer of the march, or the local police.
The high turnout meant that some protesters only left the starting point of the march, Victoria Park, at around 4:50 p.m., according to Hong Kong radio broadcaster RTHK. The end point of the march is Chater Road.
Meanwhile, a separate protest involving a group of rogue protesters outside the Legislative Council (LegCo) has continued. Hong Kong media organization HK01 reported that these protesters again tried to ram a car against a glass wall at around 5 p.m., in an apparent effort to get inside the building. They first tried to use the car against a glass wall at around 1:30 p.m.
Standing close by were some lawmakers of the pan-democratic camp, including Claudia Mo, Lam Cheuk-ting, and Leung Yiu-chung, who urged protesters to remain calm. The lawmakers added that there is no planned legislative session today or tomorrow.
Hong Kong radio broadcaster RTHK spoke to some protesters outside LegCo that were not part of the group trying to enter the building.
Some of them disagreed with the forceful move, saying that the police might accuse protesters of using violence.
However, some supported the forceful attempt, saying that “upgraded actions” are needed, given that the Hong Kong government has not responded to their demands following two major protests last month.
A march on June 9 drew just over a million people and another on June 16 was attended by 2 million.
Update: July 1, 4:08 p.m. HKT
Much Anticipated Anniversary March Begins in Hong Kong: Photos
Thousands of protesters have begun their march across Hong Kong, calling on the Hong Kong government to withdraw a controversial extradition bill.
At around 3:30 p.m. local time, Hong Kong media RTHK reported that the leading segment of the march had arrived at the intersection of Hennessy and Johnston Roads in Wan Chai. Participants of the march were shouting “Carrie Lam step down, Withdraw the evil law.”
A Chinese student surnamed Zhou from Shanghai took part in the march. When asked by RTHK if he was afraid of being recognized, he said that he had nothing to hide because the demands of the protesters were correct.
A Hongkonger surnamed Leung who is in the education sector said he was joining the march with his wife and son. He said that he had decided to come because he is worried about the impact of the bill on his rights.
He added that he also disagrees with how Hong Kong police had reacted with force against protesters on June 12.
At around 4 p.m. local time, RTHK reported that the march had arrived near the Pacific Place in Admiralty.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people continue to stand-off with police outside the Legislative (LegCo) Building after rogue protesters smashed a metal cart against a glass wall of the LegCo in an apparent effort to get inside the building.
Earlier, two pan-democracy camp lawmakers, Leung Yiu-chung and Kwok Ka-ki, were injured while trying to stop these protesters, according to RTHK.
Several pro-democratic lawmakers joined attempted to dissuade those who were charging at the glass walls, urging for calm.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo could be heard warning the disruptors that rioting charges under Hong Kong law are punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Crowds of people, many of them dressed in black, have begun to fill Victoria Park to participate in the anniversary march that is set to begin at around 3 p.m. local time.
Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), an umbrella organization that is the organizer of the march, posted on its Facebook page a detailed Google map, showing not only the detailed route but also numerous emergency care stations, trash recycling stops, and water supply booths along the route.
Meanwhile at the Legislative Council (LegCo) building, Hong Kong radio broadcaster RTHK reported around 1 p.m. local time that several rogue protesters were attempting to smash multiple glass windows and glass doors with a metal cart and metal pipes, trying to force their way into the building.
The atmosphere on both sides was extremely tense.
Two pan-democracy camp lawmakers, Leung Yiu-chung and Kwok Ka-ki, were injured while trying to stop these protesters, according to RTHK.
Hong Kong police inside the LegCo responded by pepper spreading these protesters.
At around 2:15 p.m. local time, Hong Kong media HK01 reported that some of these protesters had splashed red ink on some pan-democracy lawmakers, including Lam Cheuk-ting. Several lawmakers continued to urge the protesters to stay calm.
At around 2:30 p.m. local time, CHRF announced that it will proceed with the march, after failing to come to an agreement with the local police. Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-Cheung had asked organizers at 2 p.m. to postpone the march due to the clashes at LegCo.
However, the CHRF agree to change the end point of the march to Chater Road instead of LegCo.
Epoch Media Group will broadcast the July 1 march live beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time.
From The Epoch Times