Hong Kong activists take to streets as crucial vote looms

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters rallied in Hong Kong with their symbolic yellow umbrellas to urge lawmakers to veto government-backed election reforms

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Thousands of people marched in Hong Kong on Sunday, albeit in far smaller numbers than expected, to protest against the Beijing-backed election reforms that sparked huge street protests last year before the reforms go to a vote.

The controversial government proposal which lays out a direct vote for Hong Kong’s next leader in 2017 for the first time would allow the direct vote for Hong Kong’s next leader in 2017 but requires screening for candidates by the panel.

Just a few days before a crucial vote that will determine the southern Chinese financial hub’s future, pro-democracy protesters marched to the city’s government headquarters to show support for a veto of the government’s electoral reforms package.

Pro-democracy activists - who caught the world’s attention last year occupying part of the city for over 10 weeks,demanding more free electoral reforms with their yellow umbrellas which became a symbol of their movement – have hailed the proposals as a mockery and called for genuine universal suffrage.

Although the organisers of the protest expected at least 50,000 people to take part, the turnout was lower as only 3,500 people joined the demonstrations.

People protesting through the streets of Hong Kong chanted “I want genuine democracy” and “Veto fake universal suffrage.”

Senior police sources have told Reuters that at least 5,000 officers will be on duty when the vote takes place, saying they expect more demonstrations to take place if the package is passed.

While senior Chinese officials seem confident that Hong Kong will adopt the package, which will need two-thirds of the 70-seat house, or 47 votes, to pass, Hong Kong’s 27 pro-democracy legislators have pledged to veto it.

Once a colony of Britain, Hong Kong reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997, under a "one country, two systems" formula that gives it substantial autonomy and freedoms, with universal suffrage promised as an "ultimate goal."

TRTWorld and agencies