HONG KONG—Hundreds of Hong Kong protesters marched to the diplomatic missions of some foreign governments on Dec. 19, appealing for them to pass human rights legislation in support of their cause.
The event was organized by workers in the social welfare sector, who were in their third and final day of a self-initiated strike aimed at pressuring the Hong Kong government to respond to protesters’ demands.
Mass protests ignited in June over an extradition bill that would allow the Chinese regime to transfer individuals for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts. While the proposal has been withdrawn, protesters have since broadened their demands to include universal suffrage in city elections and an independent inquiry into police use of force.
A hundreds-strong contingent marched through downtown Hong Kong to reach the consulates of Australia, Czech Republic, Italy, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States, Japan, and Canada, where they dropped off petitions.
As they walked along highways and roads, a truck driver shouted out words of encouragement, while passengers on tram cars raised their hands to symbolize the protesters’ five demands.
— Annie Wu (@annieeenyc) December 19, 2019
Organizers urged countries to pass legislation similar to the U.S.’s Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which stipulates that mainland Chinese or Hong Kong officials who commit human rights violations can be denied entry to the United States or have their U.S. assets frozen. U.S. President Donald Trump signed the bill into law on Nov. 27.
They urged the U.S. Congress to pass the Be Water Act, which proposes enforcing such sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials involved in suppressing freedom of speech and assembly in the city.
Ms. Cheung, a social worker, said that she believes the new U.S. law can inspire other countries to stand up against the Chinese regime “and pay attention to Hong Kong.”
Ms. Ho, another social worker, was carrying a sign that depicted the 18th-century American lawyer and orator Patrick Henry, a key figure in the U.S. colonies’ call for independence from Great Britain, giving his “Give me liberty, or give me death” speech.
She said the image resonates with Hongkongers in their fight for freedom, as the Chinese regime “denies us of our personal liberties,” adding that having international allies would give them “bargaining power” against the government.
The marchers shouted slogans reprimanding the police and urging “adults to go on strike, so youth don’t have to rush to the streets,” alluding to recent efforts to prod trade unions to initiate general strikes and economically pressure the Hong Kong government.
As one segment marched through the Admiralty neighborhood, some protesters sought to walk on a nearby road to avoid a narrow pedestrian path. However, police insisted that the march application allowed for demonstrators to only use the pedestrian path, and roughly a dozen riot police appeared. Eventually, after negotiations with organizers, police allowed the contingent to go ahead on the wider road.
Ms. Chan, 70, was holding a U.S. and a UK flag as she marched. She suggested that international pressure has kept police from using heavy force during recent demonstrations, noting that since Trump signed the Hong Kong bill, police have appeared more restrained.
“Governments need to voice support for Hong Kong, or else Hong Kong will be over,” she said. Chan expressed displeasure at Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam for failing to listen to protesters and prolonging the crisis.
“She is just sitting it out, hoping things will settle down,” Chan said, noting that Lam recently visited Beijing, where she received the support of Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Chan says that she will continue participating in rallies and marches in support of the young people who have been beaten and injured by police during clashes.
“I can’t bear to see them getting hurt,” she said.