Hong Kong protesters flooded the city’s streets on Sunday in defiance of a ban by the authorities on their march, setting up roadblocks and tossing firebombs amid the firing of tear gas by police, reports AP.
Protest leaders carried a black banner at the front of the procession that read, “Five main demands, not one less,” as they pressed their calls for accountability and political rights.
Police had beefed up security measures for the unauthorised rally, the latest in the unrest that has disrupted life in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory since early June.
Black-clad and masked protesters barricaded streets at multiple locations in Kowloon, where the city’s subway operator restricted passenger access. A firebomb was tossed at one subway station.
The protesters tore off stones from the footpath and scattered them on the road, commandeered plastic safety barriers and unscrewed metal railings to form makeshift roadblocks.
Police fired tear gas after gasoline bombs were thrown toward one subway station as tens of thousands of demonstrators marched down a main road with traffic at a standstill. They sang the protest movement’s anthem and held up placards depicting the Chinese flag as a Nazi swastika.
Matthew lee, a university student, said he was determined to keep protesting even after more than four months.
“I can see some people want to give up, but I don’t want to do this because Hong Kong is my home, we want to protect this place, protect Hong Kong,” he said. “You can’t give up because Hong Kong is your home”.
Many of the protesters wore masks in defiance of a recently introduced ban on face coverings at public gatherings, and volunteers handed more out to the crowd.
Organisers said they wanted to use their right to protest as guaranteed by the city’s constitution despite the risk of arrest.
“We’re using peaceful, rational, nonviolent ways to voice our demands,” Figo Chan, vice convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, told reporters. “We’re not afraid of being arrested. What I’m most scared of is everyone giving up on our principles.”
The group has organised some of the movement’s biggest protest marches. One of its leaders, Jimmy Sham, was attacked on Wednesday by assailants wielding hammers.
On Saturday, Hong Kong police arrested a 22-year-old man on suspicion of stabbing a teenage activist who was distributing leaflets near a wall plastered with pro-democracy messages. A witness told local broadcaster RTHK that the assailant shouted afterward that Hong Kong is “a part of China” and other pro-Beijing messages.
The movement sprang out of opposition to a government proposal for an extradition bill that would have sent suspects to stand trial in mainland China, and then ballooned into broader demands for full democracy and an inquiry into alleged police brutality.