Thousands of anti-government demonstrators climbed Hong Kong’s iconic Lion Rock and Victoria Peak on Friday night, as alternative Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations were peacefully staged at various locations and the city braced for its 15th weekend of protests.
Demonstrators who had hiked to higher ground formed human chains and used torches and laser pens to create a spectacular sight, while others sang Glory to Hong Kong – the latest anthem of the protest movement – and chanted popular slogans outside the government headquarters in Admiralty.
“Liberate Hong Kong; Revolution of our times!” chanted hundreds on the grass field at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, many holding yellow lanterns up to the full moon.
Other residents marked the festival in the usual way, visiting the nearby lantern displays.
Demonstrators also gathered in Quarry Bay, Sham Shui Po, Hung Hom, Tsing Yi, Sha Tin, Yuen Long, Prince Edward and Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre, where some arrested protesters were being held.
The day’s protests kicked off with pupils forming human chains outside schools in the morning, followed by a lunchtime singing flash mob attended by hundreds of office workers in Chater Garden in Central.
They called for the city’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, to heed their demands, which include a judge-led independent inquiry into the police’s alleged use of force on demonstrators.
Lam met one of their demands on September 4, when she promised to withdraw the extradition bill that first triggered the protests in June.
She also vowed to start direct talks with people from all walks of life and support the Independent Police Complaints Council’s probe into the police’s handling of protests. But the concessions failed to satisfy many.
At The Peak, a man dressed in black, who called himself Yannick, said Lam promising to withdraw the bill was useless.
“It may be better if an independent probe was set up,” he said.
On Friday evening, riot police were briefly deployed in Shau Kei Wan, after protesters gathered outside a home for the elderly where Lam was giving out mooncakes.
The chief executive soon left via another exit without trouble. Lam also visited an elderly couple in Yau Ma Tei and another home for the elderly in Kwai Chung.
Demonstrators planned to stage a protest in Wong Tai Sin on Saturday, while others were mulling a march to the British consulate on Sunday.
Citing fears of unrest, an appeal board upheld a police ban of a march in Tin Shui Wai on Saturday, as well as the Civil Human Rights Front’s march from Causeway Bay to Central on Sunday.
The front said it had no choice but to cancel. It leaders vowed to continue applying for future events to be held on September 28 and on October 1, which is National Day.
A source also confirmed on Friday the government had decided to cancel the annual National Day fireworks out of safety considerations, while in a bid to reach out to the community, Lam sent a letter to all members of the city’s 18 district councils, inviting them for a dialogue next Wednesday.
The government on Thursday announced plans to push ahead with a vacancy tax, seeking to address the city’s property crisis.
But protesters on the streets on Friday said it was not enough.
A lawyer hiking up Lion Rock said the government had been too slow to tackle housing problems.
“They should have done it immediately after the 2014 Occupy movement,” he said.
Vincent Lam, 27, who helped organise a memorial in Admiralty to mourn those who had committed suicide since June, said the five demands were a must.
“Universal suffrage is the main point,” he said, adding that the land measures would not sway public sentiment.
“Maybe 1 per cent of us will feel better but … the government wants to sidetrack our focus and say we are taking to the streets because of the lack of land,” he said.
Attending the memorial, a 36-year-old dancer surnamed Kan said the chief executive only promised to withdraw the bill after coming under pressure from Beijing and the US.
“It’s because of other reasons such as the coming 70th anniversary of [the People’s Republic of] China on October 1 and the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in the US,” she said.
The bipartisan legislation could pave the way for Washington to sanction mainland Chinese and Hong Kong officials, and strip the city of its status as a separate trade and customs entity from the rest of China.
Reporting by Sum Lok-kei, Gigi Choy, Alvin Lum, Chris Lau, Sarah Zheng, Simone McCarthy, Yujing Liu, Danny Mok, Holly Chik, Gary Cheung and Tony Cheung
More from South China Morning Post:
- Office workers join singing flash mob on their lunch break as part of Hong Kong protests throughout Mid-Autumn Festival holiday
- Hong Kong protesters launch series of legal challenges and ask city’s judges to remove riot label from early clashes with police
- Hong Kong protests: pro-Beijing and anti-government camps attempt to outsing each other at IFC Mall in Central
- After pro-China camp suggest taking gun and machetes to deal with Vancouver’s ‘trash’ Hong Kong protesters, police ask questions