Thou­sands join marches in Hong Kong

Demon­stra­tors seek to ratchet up pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment, with ap­peals to Trump.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Eileen Ng Ng writes for the Associated Press. Dake Kang of the Associated Press con­trib­uted to this report.

HONG KONG — A huge crowd took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sun­day, some driven back by tear gas, to de­mand more democ­racy and an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the use of force to crack down on anti-gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tions, now in their sixth month.

Thou­sands turned out, in­clud­ing hard­ened young pro­test­ers in black out­fits and face masks as well as par­ents with their chil­dren.

Marching near the wa­ter­front on the Kowloon side of Vic­to­ria Har­bor, they sought to keep the pres­sure on Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Car­rie Lam af­ter pro-democ­racy can­di­dates won district coun­cil elec­tions a week ear­lier.

“If we don’t walk out, the gov­ern­ment will say it’s just a youth is­sue, but this is a Hong Kong prob­lem that af­fects all of us,” Lily Chau said as she pushed her tod­dler in a stroller. “If we are scared, the gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to tram­ple on our rights.”

Many held up a hand to in­di­cate the five de­mands of the move­ment and shouted, “Five de­mands, not one less!” and “Dis­band the po­lice force!”

Po­lice in riot gear were out in force for the third march of the day — and the one where vi­o­lence seemed most likely. They fired pep­per spray and tear gas in some ar­eas. Pro­test­ers dug up paving stones and threw them in the street to try to slow the po­lice down.

Protests in the semi­au­tonomous Chi­nese ter­ri­tory have been rel­a­tively peace­ful dur­ing the two weeks around the Nov. 24 bal­lot­ing but could turn vi­o­lent again if the gov­ern­ment doesn’t bend to the de­mands.

Lam has said she’ll ac­cel­er­ate di­a­logue but has not yielded any ground since the vote. Her gov­ern­ment has ac­cepted one de­mand — with­draw­ing ex­tra­di­tion leg­is­la­tion that could have sent sus­pects to main­land China for trial — but not the oth­ers.

Elaine Wong, an of­fice worker, called the re­cent elec­tions an empty vic­tory.

“We have in ac­tual fact not won any con­ces­sions for our de­mands,” she said. “We must con­tinue to stand out to re­mind the gov­ern­ment of our un­hap­pi­ness.”

Ear­lier marches Sun­day ap­pealed to Pres­i­dent Trump for help and de­manded that po­lice stop us­ing tear gas.

A group dressed in black and wear­ing masks car­ried Amer­i­can flags as it headed to the U.S. Consulate to ex­press grat­i­tude for leg­is­la­tion aimed at pro­tect­ing hu­man rights in Hong Kong that Trump signed into law last week.

Some held ban­ners read­ing “Pres­i­dent Trump, please lib­er­ate Hong Kong” and “Let’s make Hong Kong great again” — a riff on his 2016 cam­paign pledge to make Amer­ica great again. One showed him stand­ing atop a tank with “Trump” em­bla­zoned on the front and side.

A peace­ful crowd of about 200 adults and chil­dren marched to gov­ern­ment head­quar­ters in the morn­ing and chanted, “No more tear gas.”

“A lot of par­ents are wor­ried that their chil­dren are af­fected be­cause their chil­dren are cough­ing, break­ing out in rashes and so forth,” said march or­ga­nizer and so­cial worker Leo Kong, 40.

A third march was called for late af­ter­noon in the Tsim Sha Tsui district near Hong Kong Polytech­nic Univer­sity, the site of the last fierce clashes with po­lice two weeks ago.

Mean­while, China ac­cused the United Na­tions high com­mis­sioner for hu­man rights, Michelle Bachelet, of em­bold­en­ing “rad­i­cal vi­o­lence” in Hong Kong with her sug­ges­tion that Lam con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into re­ports of ex­ces­sive use of force by po­lice.

Bachelet wrote in an opin­ion piece Satur­day in the South China Morn­ing Post that Lam’s gov­ern­ment must pri­or­i­tize “mean­ing­ful, in­clu­sive” di­a­logue to re­solve the cri­sis.

She urged Lam to hold an “in­de­pen­dent and im­par­tial judge-led in­ves­ti­ga­tion” into po­lice con­duct at protests. It has been one of the key de­mands of demon­stra­tions that have roiled the ter­ri­tory since June.

China’s U.N. mis­sion in Geneva said that Bachelet’s ar­ti­cle in­ter­feres in Chi­nese in­ter­nal af­fairs and ex­erts pres­sure on Hong Kong’s gov­ern­ment and po­lice, which “will only em­bolden the ri­ot­ers to con­duct more se­vere rad­i­cal vi­o­lence.”

It said that Bachelet made “in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­ments” on the sit­u­a­tion in Hong Kong and that the Chi­nese side had lodged a strong protest in re­sponse.

Miguel Can­dela EPA/Shut­ter­stock

PRO-DEMOC­RACY marchers scale a wall in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui district. Ear­lier Sun­day, some demon­stra­tors called for Pres­i­dent Trump to “make Hong Kong great again” and for po­lice to stop us­ing tear gas.

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