Update: July 1, 11:20 p.m. HKT
Organizers of Hong Kong’s annual march on July 1 said that over 550,000 people took part, breaking the record in 2014 when 510,000 Hongkongers came out to demand universal suffrage in electing the city’s top official.
The Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI) gave different estimates. It said at least 374,000 was marching through the Arsenal Street during the peak.
A spokesperson for the Hong Kong government has responded with strong words to a group of protesters who broke into the legislature building by smashing glass doors earlier in the evening.
“Some radical protesters stormed the Legislative Council Complex with extreme violence. These protesters seriously jeopardized the safety of police officers and members of the public. Such violent acts are unacceptable to society,” according to a statement.
“Hong Kong is a society that respects the rule of law, and has never tolerated violence. Protesters who resort to violence must stop their acts immediately,” the unnamed spokesperson said in an earlier statement, adding that the police will “take appropriate enforcement action to protect public order and safety.” The government had sent out a red alert asking everyone to leave the building.
The city’s Hospital Authority said so far 43 people have been injured in clashes with the police. Thirty-seven have since been discharged from the hospital. At least two are still being treated.
Update: July 1, 8:45 p.m. HKT
Falun Gong Practitioners Take Part in Hong Kong Anniversary March
The anniversary march is still ongoing, four hours after it started when protesters began marching from Victoria Park.
At around 7 p.m. local time, Hong Kong media RTHK reported that the last segment of the march had reached an area near SOGO department store at Causeway Bay.
Many protesters decided not to travel to Victoria Park to join the march. Instead, they joined from different streets connecting to Hennessy Road, the scheduled march route connecting Victoria Park and Chater Road, the end point of the march.
At Victoria Park, there were a handful of protesters voluntarily cleaning up the trash left behind.
At the Legislative Council (LegCo), a group of protesters have broken through a glass door and entered the building. According to RTHK, police officers inside the building are armed with guns that can fire tear gas and bean bags.
Also taking part in the anniversary march were practitioners of Falun Gong, who are raising awareness of the ongoing persecution in China.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is an ancient spiritual practice with meditative exercises and moral teachings based on truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. The practice became enormously popular by the late 1990s, with official estimates putting the number of adherents at about 70 to 100 million in China.
However, former Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin viewed the group’s popularity as a threat to his rule. On July 20, 1999, Jiang launched a country-wide persecution to round up practitioners and throw them into prisons, brainwashing centers, labor camps, and psychiatric wards—in an effort to force them to abandon their faith.
Update: July 1, 5:48 p.m. HKT
Anniversary March in Hong Kong Continues As Protesters Demand Government Withdraw Extradition Bill
At around 3 p.m. local time, thousands of protesters began their march across Hong Kong, demanding that the local government withdraw a controversial extradition bill.
The march is still ongoing. At present there is no official estimate of the number of people taking part from either the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), organizer of the march, or the local police.
The high turnout meant that some protesters only left the starting point of the march, Victoria Park, at around 4:50 p.m., according to Hong Kong radio broadcaster RTHK. The end point of the march is Chater Road.
Meanwhile, a separate protest involving a group of rogue protesters outside the Legislative Council (LegCo) has continued. Hong Kong media organization HK01 reported that these protesters again tried to ram a car against a glass wall at around 5 p.m., in an apparent effort to get inside the building. They first tried to use the car against a glass wall at around 1:30 p.m.
Standing close by were some lawmakers of the pan-democratic camp, including Claudia Mo, Lam Cheuk-ting, and Leung Yiu-chung, who urged protesters to remain calm. The lawmakers added that there is no planned legislative session today or tomorrow.
Hong Kong radio broadcaster RTHK spoke to some protesters outside LegCo that were not part of the group trying to enter the building.
Some of them disagreed with the forceful move, saying that the police might accuse protesters of using violence.
However, some supported the forceful attempt, saying that “upgraded actions” are needed, given that the Hong Kong government has not responded to their demands following two major protests last month.
A march on June 9 drew just over a million people and another on June 16 was attended by 2 million.
Update: July 1, 4:08 p.m. HKT
Much Anticipated Anniversary March Begins in Hong Kong: Photos
Thousands of protesters have begun their march across Hong Kong, calling on the Hong Kong government to withdraw a controversial extradition bill.
At around 3:30 p.m. local time, Hong Kong media RTHK reported that the leading segment of the march had arrived at the intersection of Hennessy and Johnston Roads in Wan Chai. Participants of the march were shouting “Carrie Lam step down, Withdraw the evil law.”
A Chinese student surnamed Zhou from Shanghai took part in the march. When asked by RTHK if he was afraid of being recognized, he said that he had nothing to hide because the demands of the protesters were correct.
A Hongkonger surnamed Leung who is in the education sector said he was joining the march with his wife and son. He said that he had decided to come because he is worried about the impact of the bill on his rights.
He added that he also disagrees with how Hong Kong police had reacted with force against protesters on June 12.
At around 4 p.m. local time, RTHK reported that the march had arrived near the Pacific Place in Admiralty.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people continue to stand-off with police outside the Legislative (LegCo) Building after rogue protesters smashed a metal cart against a glass wall of the LegCo in an apparent effort to get inside the building.
Earlier, two pan-democracy camp lawmakers, Leung Yiu-chung and Kwok Ka-ki, were injured while trying to stop these protesters, according to RTHK.
Several pro-democratic lawmakers joined attempted to dissuade those who were charging at the glass walls, urging for calm.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo could be heard warning the disruptors that rioting charges under Hong Kong law are punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Update: July 1, 2:54 p.m. HKT
Hong Kongers Gather at Victoria Park to Participate in Anniversary March, Rogue Protesters Storm Building
Crowds of people, many of them dressed in black, have begun to fill Victoria Park to participate in the anniversary march that is set to begin at around 3 p.m. local time.
Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), an umbrella organization that is the organizer of the march, posted on its Facebook page a detailed Google map, showing not only the detailed route but also numerous emergency care stations, trash recycling stops, and water supply booths along the route.
Meanwhile at the Legislative Council (LegCo) building, Hong Kong radio broadcaster RTHK reported around 1 p.m. local time that several rogue protesters were attempting to smash multiple glass windows and glass doors with a metal cart and metal pipes, trying to force their way into the building.
The atmosphere was extremely tense.
Two pan-democracy camp lawmakers, Leung Yiu-chung and Kwok Ka-ki, were injured while trying to stop these protesters, according to RTHK.
Hong Kong police inside the LegCo responded by pepper spreading these protesters.
At around 2:15 p.m. local time, Hong Kong media HK01 reported that some of these protesters had splashed red ink on some pan-democracy lawmakers, including Lam Cheuk-ting. Several lawmakers continued to urge the protesters to stay calm.
At around 2:30 p.m. local time, CHRF announced that it will proceed with the march, after failing to come to an agreement with the local police. Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-Cheung had asked organizers at 2 p.m. to postpone the march due to the clashes at LegCo.
However, the CHRF agree to change the end point of the march to Chater Road instead of LegCo.
Update: July 1, 2:21 p.m. HKT
Hong Kong Protest Leaders Harassed Ahead of Anniversary March
Four different cases of harassment were reported in Hong Kong less than a day before the start of the planned July 1 march to mark the handover of Hong Kong back to China under Chinese Communist Party (CCP) rule. Two individuals, one political party and a radio station are known to have been targeted so far.
The two individuals were Joshua Wong, the iconic figure from the 2014 Umbrella Movement and the secretary general of the pro-democracy party Demosistō, and Tony Chung, convener of the pro-independence group Student Localism, according to local media The Stand News.
Wong said that he had been receiving calls to his cellphone every three seconds beginning from around 7:50 a.m. local time on July 1. The repeated calls prevented him from using his cellphone.
According to Wong, all the numbers used to call his cellphone have been different.
Chung reported that he had faced the same phone harassment from around 8:02 a.m. local time. He has since uploaded screenshots of the phone numbers that called his phone to his Facebook page.
Both Wong and Chung added that they had to switch their phones to “airplane mode” to avoid the incessant calls.
On Chung’s Facebook page, a Facebook user named “Acr Varok Footman” commented that those who were calling could have been wanting to know his location, and suggest he either get a new SIM card or set up a white list that would only allow specified callers to reach him.
Other Facebook users reacted to news of the phone harassment by blaming the Chinese regime’s infamous “50-cent” army, who Facebook user Sandra Lee explained were the kinds of people that get paid for making phone calls.
Another user continued to mock China for “deploying its ‘national stability’ apparatus.”
The 50 Cent Army—a massive group of freelance online agitators hired by the CCP—scour the web, harass dissenters, and “guide public opinion” in favor of the Chinese regime. As the name implies, 50 centers are paid 0.5 yuan ($0.08) for each post they make online that defends the regime or attacks its critics.
The Kowloon Bay office of the Democratic political coalition People Power reported an overnight break the morning of July 1 after finding that many of the props they had made for displaying in the march had been damaged, according to The Stand News. An unknown pungent liquid was also reported to have been spilled across the office’s floor.
People Power said the break in was a move to intended to oppress the ongoing protest in Hong Kong and their freedom of speech.
Citizens’ Radio, a non-profit radio broadcaster founded by the pan-democratic coalition, stated that four unidentified men, each wearing a facial mask, broke into its office at around 2:30 a.m. on July 1, according to The Stand News.
One of its staff was at the office at the time and was threatened by the four men. One of the men wielding a hammer, one holding a softball bat, and another holding pipe, smashed the office’s glass doors and tables.
At around 11:00 a.m. local time, Hong Kong media NOW reported that two metro stations, Wan Chai and Admiralty, which were closed earlier today around 7 a.m. before Carrie Lam attended a flag-raising ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square, have been reopened to the public.
Local police had reportedly used pepper spray to disperse protesters at Harcourt Road around 7:30 a.m.
The Stand News shared images of two protesters that were injured during the altercations at Harcourt Road on its Facebook page. They pair were allegedly hit with police batons.
Protesters Still Gathered Outside Government Offices
At around 11:30 a.m. local time, Hong Kong media HK01 reported that there were about a hundred protesters gathered at an elevator entrance at the Hong Kong government complex. The entrance leads to a bridge linking to nearby Admiralty Centre, a commercial building.
Preparations for Annual March
At around 12:30 p.m. local time, HK01 reported that several organizations have set up their booths along the march route in preparation for the July 1 march.
At around 12:45 local time, HK reported that Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), organizer of the protest, announced that the march will officially start at 3 p.m. local time.
Additionally, some Hongkongers dressed in black—the official color designed CHRF—have gathered at East Point Road, which is about 0.4 mile away from Victoria Park, the starting point of the march.
Update: July 1, 11:34 a.m. HKT
Protesters Demand More Government Action After Hong Kong Leader’s Statement
Protesters have demanded that the Hong Kong government address their concerns, after a short speech by leader Carrie Lam at a ceremony to mark the handover of the city to Chinese sovereignty.
Lam’s speech was given the morning of July 1 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. During her speech, she said that she had learned her lesson from the disputes between the Hongkongers and the government, according to Hong Kong media.
The dispute began back in February this year, when her government introduced a controversial extradition bill, which would allow any country, including mainland China, to seek extradition of suspects accused of a crime. Many Hongkongers remain worried that if the bill were to pass, Beijing could pressure the city government to hand over citizens of any nationality to face trial in the Chinese regime’s courts under trumped-up charges.
There have already between two major protests—a march on June 9 that drew 1.03 million people and another on June 16 attended by 2 million. In the afternoon today, a high turnout is expected for another march that is set to begin from Victoria Park to Admiralty.
Lam added that she thoroughly understood how, as a politician, she must be aware of public sentiment. She elaborated that her government will move to be “more open and inclusive” of different views.
Some protesters gathered around government offices in Admiralty the morning of July 1 expressed their dissatisfaction after learning of Lam’s latest public comments, according to Hong Kong radio broadcaster RTHK. They said that Lam has continued to fail to address their demands—one of them being the call for an independent commission to investigate the police’s use of force against protesters on June 12.
Protesters clashed with police on June 12 after some protesters tried to break a police line outside the legislature where lawmakers were set to debate the bill. After clearing the LegCo lobby, police used pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and bean bags to disperse the hundreds of thousands of protestors gathered peacefully on surrounding streets. Over 80 civilians were injured.
According to RTHK, some protesters said that Lam’s remarks were intended for her pro-Beijing supporters. Others said that Lam had still not heeded their calls for the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill.
Hong Kong media HK01 spoke to a protester surnamed Chan at Harcourt Road who commented that Lam’s speech was a “political show.”
Another protester named Marco told HK01 that Lam’s speech was merely “government talk” to ease public anger.
Both Chan and Marco said they will be joining the July 1 march, which is set to begin from Victoria Park this afternoon.
Hong Kong media NOW reported at 9:30 a.m. local time that some protesters were slowing moving out of Harcourt Road and Lung Wui Road around LegCo to Tim Mei Avenue, which faces both the Hong Kong government headquarters and LegCo.
Around 10 a.m. local time, HK01 reported that some protesters, who had gathered at Lung Wo Road and Lung Hop Street earlier in the day, were moving to the demonstration area outside of the LegCo.
At around 10:30 a.m. local time, Hong Kong radio broadcaster 881903.com reported that police officers had pulled out of Harcourt Road and hundreds of protesters originally at Lung Wo Road had arrived at LegCo’s demonstration zone.
Update: July 1, 10:06 a.m. HKT
Hong Kong Protests Start Early on Handover Anniversary, Annual March Set to Begin In Afternoon
Protesters against the expanding power of the Chinese regime in Hong Kong and the recent extradition bill from the government began to gather near government headquarters in Admiralty at around 4 a.m. local time on July 1, according to Hong Kong media.
The day marks the anniversary of Hong Kong being handed back by the United Kingdom to China under the Chinese Communist Party in 1997.
By 6 a.m. local time, the number of protesters gathered at Admiralty’s Lung Hop Street that leads to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) building holding umbrellas numbered close to 100, according to media reports.
Meanwhile, around 200 people had gathered nearby at Harcourt Road by 7 a.m. local time, with police in riot gear seen close by. Just weeks earlier, hundred of thousands of protesters had gathered on Harcourt Rd to request the government withdraw its extradition bill from debate and voting by the pro-Beijing majority LegCo.
Hong Kong media reported on July 1 that Hong Kong lawmaker Jeremy Tam, a member of the pro-democracy Civic Party, was on site with the morning protesters.
Some protesters yelled the slogan “Return us Golden Bauhinia Square,” while others waved “Black Bauhinia” flags. The Bauhinia, or Hong Kong Orchid Tree, became the emblem of Hong Kong when it was still a British colony.
Around 7:00 a.m., it was reported that Hong Kong metro authorities shut down two metro stations: Wan Chai and Admiralty, preventing more protesters from traveling to join the protesters. It is not known for how long the shutdown will last.
A flag-raising ceremony was held around 8 a.m. local time at Golden Bauhinia Square, which was attended by Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam. A banquet to celebrate the handover was held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, which is located at the Square, and the event ended at around 8:15 a.m. local time.
At Harcourt Road, local police reportedly used pepper spray to disperse protesters at around 7:30 a.m. local time.
Some of the protesters gathered at Citic Tower and an ambulance was called to assist an injured protester. It is not known how the protester got injured. HK01 reported that Democractic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong assisted in calling the ambulance.
HK01 reported that some protesters also gathered on Lung Wu Road right outside the LegCo building.
Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), an umbrella body of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy groups, has announced that the July 1 march will begin from Victoria Park, with locals asked to gather from 2:30 p.m. local time. The scheduled route will run through Causeway Bay before reaching Admiralty, where the Hong Kong government’s offices are located.
Epoch Media Group will broadcast the July 1 march live beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time.