Hong Kong: In their 14th straight weekend of anti-government protests, Hong Kong‘s demonstrators have taken their case to the US consulate, their latest attempt to bring an international spotlight to the political crisis in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
Calling for politicians in the United States to support their cause, thousands of people gathered in central Hong Kong and marched towards the consulate, waving US flags and shouting slogans in English, such as “Fight for freedom! Stand with Hong Kong!”.
The rally was peaceful, but riot police were out in force to ensure protesters steered clear of the nearby Government House, the chief executive’s gated residential compound.
The mass protests were sparked more than three months ago after the China-backed government sought to introduce a now-scrapped extradition bill, which opponents argued would have allowed Beijing to break its promise to preserve Hong Kong’s separate justice system after its return from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
The demonstrations have since morphed into a broader pro-democracy movement, with protesters widening their demands to include full universal suffrage; an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality; a blanket amnesty for all those charged with offences stemming from their involvement in demonstrations; and a refutation of the police claim that protesters were guilty of rioting – a crime that carries a heavy prison sentence.
Even though Chief Executive Carrie Lam gave in last week and fully withdrew the bill, which would have allowed suspected criminals to be extradited to mainland China, demonstrators vowed to continue taking to the streets to press their other demands.
“For three months, the police have beaten us up so bad. Withdrawing the bill only now is like putting on a band-aid,” said Shan Chan, a 15-year-old student, holding a poster showing the US Congress building.