Protesters Rally In Hong Kong On Handover Anniversary | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Protesters Rally In Hong Kong On Handover Anniversary

Posted: Jul 1, 2016 at 10:42 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong Friday to mark the anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China, with pro-independence groups rallying for the first time amid fears Beijing is tightening its grip.

But a Hong Kong bookseller who was detained and interrogated for months in mainland China, and was due to lead the annual march, pulled out at the last minute citing a “serious threat” to his security.

Tensions are high in the southern Chinese city after the explosive revelations by Lam Wing-kee, whose account of his detention on the mainland after he went missing last year sent shockwaves through a city where residents are worried of eroding freedoms.

The 61-year-old was one of five employees of a Hong Kong firm that published salacious titles about leading Chinese politicians and who disappeared only to resurface over the border.

His story fanned growing concerns that Beijing is increasing its influence in semi-autonomous Hong Kong, which is ruled under a “one country, two systems” deal enshrined in the July 1997 handover agreement, guaranteeing its freedoms and way of life for 50 years.

“Lam Wing Kee is facing a serious threat and is forced to not attend the rally,” said protest leader Lau Shan-Ching, who spent 10 years in a Chinese jail as a prisoner of conscience.

The march organisers said Lam had pulled out because he had been tailed in recent days.

“He had observed that he had been followed by strangers in the last two days. He got greatly annoyed about his personal safety so he decided not to come today,” pro-democracy lawmaker Albert Ho told reporters.

“Mr Lam has reason to be scared that this may be people from the mainland,” Ho added.

The march got underway nonetheless at around 3:30 pm (0730 GMT) from the city’s Victoria Park, with the front protesters holding a huge banner that read “Stand in Unity. Protect Hong Kong”.

“We want to choose our own government,” shouted protesters, some of whom carried yellow umbrellas — a symbol of the pro-democracy movement that brought parts of the city to a standstill for months in 2014. (AFP)