Hong Kong marks peaceful anniversary of street protests

2015-09-28 16:32
Protesters raise yellow umbrellas during a moment of silence in Hong Kong. (AP)

Protesters raise yellow umbrellas during a moment of silence in Hong Kong. (AP)

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Hong Kong - Babies, dogs, painters and priests were among thousands on Monday who peacefully marked the anniversary of pro-democracy protests that had brought parts of Hong Kong to a standstill for 79 days.

Holding yellow umbrellas aloft, demonstrators marked the moment when tear gas was fired in 2014, galvanising tens of thousands to take to the streets to challenge the Communist Party's dictates from Beijing.

"I don't feel much has changed," said Wallis Fu, a 23-year-old secretary who had occupied the main Admiralty protest site around government headquarters last year.

"I'm here to remind the government we haven't forgotten that nothing has been done," Fu said.

None of the protestors main demands have been met.

City Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying remains in office, and is considering another 5-year term. City residents will also need to wait until 2020 to see any new attempt at instituting electoral democracy.

"Some call it a failure, but I don't think so," said actor Gregory Wong, 37. "The movement succeeded in putting more awareness out there."

A small contingent of a couple hundred who disagree with the suffrage movement sat in an amphitheatre.

"I think we have enough freedoms," said Alice, 60, a now-retired garment factory owner who withheld her surname. "Democracy should happen bit by bit."

Thousands of police encircled the government building with barricades to block any attempt to reoccupy the roads.

The next election, in 2017, will proceed under the current system, where a 1 200-member committee of the city's economic and political elite selects the chief executive, with no popular vote.

The debate over Hong Kong's political future has its roots in its British colonial past. As a condition of the 1997 handover, China promised Hong Kong a high-degree of autonomy, until at least 2047, under the "one country, two systems" principle.

Read more on:    hong kong  |  china

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