Protesters gathered in various locations in Hong Kong on Thursday evening to mark Taiwan’s celebration of its 108th anniversary as the Republic of China, in a show of defiance against Beijing’s rule and the city government’s one-week-old ban on masks.
Along with these events, about 100 people stood in solidarity in Tsim Sha Tsui to voice support for a young woman who suffered a serious eye injury during a protest on August 11. She has become one of the icons of the anti-government protests that have roiled Hong Kong for four months.
Protesters said the woman was hit by a police beanbag round during a violent showdown in Tsim Sha Tsui, but the force is not taking the blame, pending an investigation. There had been suggestions she was hit by a projectile from a protester’s catapult.
Dozens of officers left Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station at about 9pm for a stop and search operation after carrying one out about four hours earlier. One young man was taken into the station after police found a cutter on him.
At about 7pm, demonstrators started to gather in areas such as Sai Ying Pun, Tsim Sha Tsui, Sha Tin, Kowloon Tong and Tai Koo to unfurl Republic of China flags to mark the “Double Tenth” national holiday and chant slogans such as “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times!” and “Hongkongers, resist!”
In Sai Ying Pun, at least 30 people, some of them supporters of Hong Kong independence, gathered at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park to pay tribute to the founder of modern China, who died in 1925 when the country was still in turmoil after the country’s 1911 revolution.
The group chanted Sun Yat-sen’s famed quote: “The revolution is not yet successful, comrades must keep up the struggle.”
They also shouted “One China, Republic of China! Expel the Communist Party, Hongkongers self-rule Hong Kong!” and sang Taiwan’s National Anthem of the Republic of China.
Medical worker Daphne Chu, in her 20s, said she believes Hong Kong is in a revolutionary moment. “Sun didn’t succeed the first time. We have to insist, and fight with persistence,” said Chu, a supporter of Hong Kong’s independence from China.
Waving a Republic of China flag, a protester surnamed Ho, in his 40s, said: “We should start a revolution … I’m not afraid if the youngsters decide to go ahead.”
Masked protester Kit Yeung, in his 30s, said he was there to voice his disapproval of the new law banning face coverings at public assemblies. “Wearing a mask doesn’t feel good at all. But I force myself to wear it most of the time when I am out,” he said.
Meanwhile, amid a heavy police presence in Tsim Sha Tsui, about 50 people waved Republic of China flags and held placards saying “Taiwan-Hong Kong friendship, celebrate the Double Tenth together”, as they sang the birthday song.
An education worker in his 30s named Nathan said he joined the flash mob as he appreciated how there was “one person, one vote” for Taiwan’s president.
“I’m here for the 108th anniversary of the Republic of China … Hongkongers want what Taiwan has, a democratic voting system that lets them pick their own leader,” he said.
Earlier in the evening, demonstrators gathered outside Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station, with some covering their right eye.
Form Five pupil Yip Hei-tung, 17, said he came to protest against the police’s disrespect for the injured woman’s privacy, as the force had obtained her medical records without her consent.
“We often chant ‘Rogue police, give us the eye back’, what we mean is that they should take responsibility,” he said.
Last month, Hong Kong police were given the medical records of the woman even though she issued a legal letter through her lawyers to the Hospital Authority to block the force’s request.
Online calls for people to protest in Tsim Sha Tsui prompted Kowloon Park and the Mira Place shopping mall to close at 4pm and 4.30pm respectively.
More from South China Morning Post:
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- Taiwan or the Republic of China? Island grapples with question of identity as Double Tenth celebrations play down nationalism
- Taiwan deports mainland Chinese tourist who tore down messages of support for Hong Kong protests
- US and Taiwan hold forum to shore up support for Taipei in Pacific