A few hundred people attended a Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph in Hong Kong on Sunday, with representatives of several countries and veterans associations in attendance, which was briefly interrupted as some chanted pro-democracy slogans towards the end of the event.
Many carried British and colonial flags, wore red poppies and stood for a two-minute silence at 11am, followed by the traditional Last Post.
After officials laid wreaths at the cenotaph, where a Remembrance Day ceremony has been held every year since 1923, the event closed with the Chinese National anthem and dozens began shouting “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times”, with their backs turned to the memorial.
“The actual event is for remembering the world wars, however in this event we want to speak out for our demands, there’s no more freedom for us,” said one student surnamed Pang, who was wearing all black.
“The world wars fought against those from other countries, but here we can see Hongkongers harming their own people. It’s worse than even a foreign war.”
Yanic Lui, a university student in history, said this was a good chance to send a message to the world, as Hongkongers continue calling for international support to their cause.
“Most of the commonwealth countries are here and they will care about our voice,” he said.
Graham Price, a British veteran who served in Hong Kong during the 1990s and is now semi-retired, said he understood what protesters were demanding, but added that “being a military man you stand to attention when the national anthem is played.”
Michael Wong, an educator in his 40s, said this year’s ceremony, just like 2014 during the Occupy protests, was different: he remembered when traffic was at a standstill on Connaught Road Central then, as protesters occupied the thoroughfare.
Wong said there was a dilemma on how to end public ceremonies, as the national anthem was met with chants and jeers throughout the months-long movement. Still, the shouting was not a good idea for the sombre memorial event, he said.
“Today is to show gratitude towards those who participated in wars. [The protesters] could’ve done something afterwards.”