Protesters in Hong Kong are set to hold a march on Oct. 1 despite a police ban.
The date is the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s takeover of China, a sensitive time for Beijing. In the mainland, it has gone to great lengths to ensure that “National Day” celebrations proceed without a hitch.
Hongkongers, who have staged mass protests since June against the Chinese regime’s creeping interference into city affairs, plan to demonstrate on what they call “the day of mourning.”
Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the organizer behind many of the city’s largest protests since June, applied for a march through the city’s main hubs, but police rejected the proposal. The police denied the group’s appeal on Monday.
Jimmy Sham, CHRF’s convener, called off the march after the denial.
Several politicians then announced that they would organize the march instead.
“We believe that it is right of all the people of Hong Kong to come to the march. We have the right to march, and the police should not deny the right to march. So we will still go on marching tomorrow,” said Labour Party veteran Lee Cheuk-yan at a press conference.
The press conference was jointly held by Lee; Figo Chan, deputy convener at CHRF; Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats; and Albert Ho, former chairman of the Democratic Party and current chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China.
The four announced that they will be the organizers of the march, and that the route will be the same as that proposed by CHRF: starting from East Point Road in Causeway Bay to Charter Road in Central, beginning at 1 p.m.
Lee said that the theme of the march will also be the same: to call for the Hong Kong government to answer protesters’ five demands.
He added that the four are ready to face the legal repercussions for organizing the march without police approval.
Meanwhile, Ho, who is also a lawyer, said the police’s decision to ban the march could be challenged in court. “The decision of the police to deny our rights to march on National Day, is blatantly irrational and unreasonable…So in case anyone of us would be arrested or be prosecuted by the police, I think there will also be legal action in the high court, to challenge the legality of the police’s decision,” Ho said.
Ho added: “Our right to march does not depend on the issuance of this notice of no objection. Because our right stems from the Basic Law and the Bills of Rights,” referring to the city’s mini-constitution.
On Monday afternoon, protesters also held their own press conference, promising to take to the streets on Oct. 1.
A female representative, dressed in sunglasses, face mask, and a helmet to protect her identity, urged Hongkongers to protest tomorrow, saying that it would be a “milestone event” in the protest movement.
She added that police tactics this past weekend, in which a journalist was hit by a projectile likely fired by police, and an undercover officer fired a warning shot and aimed his gun at protesters, were meant to “intimidate” people and prevent them from coming out to protest on Oct. 1.
She urged Hongkongers to “overcome their fears” and show up tomorrow. “We will fight this totalitarian regime until the end,” she said.
Meanwhile, police spokesperson Tse Chun-chung said at a Monday press conference that the police force has received intelligence suggesting radical protesters have planned some “extremely dangerous activities” for Oct. 1, including attacking police officers and setting fires at public spaces.
Those claims were also reported by some media. In response to a reporter’s question about such claims, the female representative at the protesters press conference said that those were “the Hong Kong government’s smearing of us. We have never targeted innocent people. We are not terrorists; they are.”