Politics

Hundreds mark fourth year since Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement

Several hundred people gathered outside the Hong Kong government headquarters this evening marking the four-year anniversary of the start of the mass pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, as worries prevail that freedom of political expression is being increasingly muzzled by Beijing.

In 2014, tens of thousands occupied major roadways in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok for 79 days starting from September 28 rallying for "genuine universal suffrage" and democratic reform in the highly autonomous city’s leadership elections.

The crowds raised yellow umbrellas, the movement's symbol, and held a three-minute silence at 5:58 pm today as audio recordings during the movement was played back on loudspeakers to commemorate the moment when the Hong Kong police began to blast 87 tear gas canisters at the unarmed protesters four years ago.

"Hongkongers keep fighting," the crowds chanted.

Former teacher Jenny Woo told Hong Kong people to look ahead, saying the present political climate was different from four years ago.

"I joined [the remembrance event] because the youth are our future," said Ms Zeng, 55, a mainland immigrant who moved to the city just before the movement.

Having participated in the Mong Kok occupation, Ms Zeng said she had been moved by a documentary she watched a week before about the movement.

Supporters also applauded the nine defendants, including Occupy advocates Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Chan Kin-man, for the upcoming trial for the movement in November.

"I have no regrets at all," Professor Chan told the crowds.

He regarded the movement as "the most glorious moment" of his life.

"We could not shake the regime," activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung said on stage. "But at least we could inspire people's hearts."

In the past few days, local pro-Beijing media have continuously slammed the Umbrella Movement for crippling the city's rule of law and polarising the society.

The commemoration came five days after the Hong Kong government prohibited the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party from operating.

Security chief John Lee Ka-chiu deemed the party's agenda was "in strict contravention to the Basic Law and also against national security".

Hong Kong has been governed under a "one country, two systems" policy that protects citizens' liberties unseen on the mainland, including freedoms of speech and assembly and an independent judiciary.

The policy also promises Hong Kong people fully free elections of the city's chief executive and legislative council.

But there are concerns that as Beijing is tightening its control over the city, those rights are becoming increasingly threatened.

Elections by universal suffrage have still failed to materialise after the UK handed over Hong Kong to China in 1997.

Leading pro-democracy activists have been prosecuted on protest-related charges, such as unlawful assembly, public nuisance and incitement, since the Umbrella Movement.

Pro-independence and pro-democracy activists have also been blocked from running for legislative elections after accusations by the government's electoral office of promoting the city's independence.

Some were disqualified and ousted from the seats which they had initially won by popular vote after a reinterpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law by Beijing.

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) started as a newspaper in 1969. Today, it is published across multiple media platforms and updated constantly to bring the latest news and analyses to its readers.

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