July 1 protest with new starting point draws less crowd
This is the second year the starting point of the July 1 march has been changed to the Central Lawn of the Victoria Park while the number of participants continues to drop.
About 50,000 people joined the rally this year as the organiser reported, while the police claimed there are 9,800 people at peak, which was the lowest since 2003.
For the second consecutive year, the organiser failed to reserve the soccer pitches as the starting point due to the handover celebration organised by The Hong Kong Celebrations Association. The application to assemble at East Point Road also failed later.
Au Nok-hin, the vice-convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, called for citizens not to join the rally at East Point Road.
He claimed that the participants could join at the Hysan place or Wan Chai Computer Centre instead.
"I am worried that the police will find opportunities to arrests citizens in East Point Road. I know that there are already dozens of police there. The grip placed on protests have definitely tightened," Mr. Au said before the protest started.
As TYR reporters observed, the participants could join or leave the rally freely during the march. However, in some places with crowd control barriers in place, people are not allowed to enter.
According to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, The Celebrations Association was given priority since it is a registered charity group under the Inland Revenue Ordinance.
Different parties have different complaints towards the government.
In regards to democracy, Martin Lee, founder of the Democratic Party in Hong Kong, believes that Carrie Lam is not doing enough.
"My greatest complaint about the current government is that this chief executive has done nothing, nothing in this past one year, about democracy," said Mr. Lee.
"The Basic Law has been interpreted by the standing committee and the national people’s congress, so she is the only person who can start rolling the ball. She must submit a report to the standing committee, recommending reformed to our political structure because she is the only person who has the power to do so," Mr. Lee ultimately concluded.
Under the guiding concept of "end one-party dictatorship, get back the freedom of speech, get back all our freedom", Legislative Council member Eddie Chu Hoi-dick expressed his dissatisfaction with the current land distribution in Hong Kong.
"Developers should not have control over all land resources. Hong Kong people should have their own house to live and so they do not need to sacrifice their entire life’s savings for an apartment," said Mr. Chu.
Simon Chan, a participant joining the rally with his child said they joined the rally to express his voices.
Mr. Chan added that "this Hong Kong is not the Hong Kong that I familiar with. It is dying, I come out to voice and I hope Hong Kong become the city that I familiar with."
"My child knows that he is joining a rally to demand something," Mr. Chan also said. "But he is too young to understand what the demands are."
However, not everyone agreed with the theme of the march.
Participants of the Defend Hong Kong Campaign believe that it is undeniable that Hong Kong’s homeland is always China. They support the one-party dictatorship.
One participant recorded the march with her phone while accusing the participants of treacherous behaviour against their "homeland".
"The national education must be preserved for our next generation," said Leticia Lee See-yin standing amidst raised Chinese flags. "We must teach our children correct morals and let them know that their root is always China."
The July 1 march is an annual event for citizens to air their discontent over social issues. The demonstration is chosen to be held on the HKSAR establishment day, which marks the handover of the sovereignty of Hong Kong from the British to the Chinese in 1997.
《The Young Reporter》
The Young Reporter (TYR) is an English news publication produced by international journalism students at Hong Kong Baptist University. It started as a printed magazine in 1969. Today, TYR is produced across different platforms.
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