Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrators braved torrential rain to hold their largest rally in weeks, a show of mass support that reset the movement that opposes Beijing’s tightening grip on the city and which heaped pressure on officials to resolve its biggest political crisis in decades, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The peaceful procession was in contrast to recent weekends which have seen bloody battles between protesters and police spread across the city and shuttered the city’s airport last Monday.
Hundreds of thousands of mainly black-clad protesters of all ages rallied Sunday in Victoria Park, the starting point of some of the biggest demonstrations through 11 weekends of unrest, with crowds overflowing into the streets. Many marched 2 miles to the city’s financial district, clogging major road arteries, in defiance of a police ban on any procession outside the park.
The scenes, which evoked two giant marches in early June, show that the movement is far from fizzling out, increasing pressure on local officials and their masters in Beijing who have struggled to contain the most intense social unrest in recent memory.
“With this huge number we can say that the people of Hong Kong have revitalized and reauthorized the campaign,” said Bonnie Leung, vice convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, which organized the rally. “The campaign has the support but the government doesn’t.”
The organizers said more than 1.7 million people attended the overall rally, during which people passed into and out of the park. Police said there were 128,000 in the park at the peak period.
This weekend was the first in nearly a month without police firing tear gas and the calmer mood may offer an opportunity for officials to consider ways to initiate steps toward resolving the crisis, some analysts said.
Over the past few days, the Trump administration has spoken out more strongly about its concerns over the unrest and on Thursday, President Trump urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to “humanely solve the problem in Hong Kong.”
Billed by organizers as peaceful and rational, Sunday’s rally saw streets thronged for hours. Protesters chanted slogans demanding their rights, including chants of “go, Hongkongers!” while a sound system in one district blasted out “Do you hear the people sing,” a protest anthem from Les Misérables, the musical set during social upheaval of early 19th-century Paris.