The Civil Human Rights Front, the organization behind past million-strong anti-extradition protests, today called on Hongkongers to once again assemble at Victoria Park on Sunday march to Central in protest of “corrupt police.”
CHRF convenor Jimmy Sham announced the march shortly after a particularly combative press conference in which Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam defended police and sought to dodge a withering barrage of questions from frustrated journalists.
The protest, which is scheduled to begin at Victoria Park at 2:30pm and finish at Chater Road, will focus on allegations of police brutality, while reiterating protesters oft-repeated five demands, which include an independent investigation of police, universal suffrage, and the complete withdrawal of the controversial extradition bill that first sparked Hong Kong’s long-running protests more than two months ago.
Sham told reporters today that “the police have illegally and violently repressed protests in Hong Kong” and “dismissed any guidelines and human rights standards” in their use of force.
“Carrie Lam chose to side with the police and let the police to investigate themselves,” he added, referring to an open Independent Police Complaints Council investigation that officials have pointed to when asked about initiating a truly independent investigation into recent police action.
Public anger at the police has been mounting for weeks, but reached a boiling point on Sunday after officers fired tear gas in an MTR station and a young woman was shot in the eye with what was believed to be a bean bag round.
In contrast to recent guerrilla-style protests that have ended in escalating violence, CHRF’s marches have remained peaceful so far, at least during the officially sanctioned hours.
“Many citizens with families and children wish for a peaceful protest, so that they can have a platform to tell the government that Hongkongers choose to stand with justice,” said Sham.
It was a massive CHRF march on June 9 that first kicked off the protest movement in earnest, with organizers estimating more than a million people attended. A follow-up rally on June 16 by the CHRF drew even more — more than two million, according to the group.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting told reporters at the CHRF press conference that Hong Kong was struggling with three “disasters”: triads, who were implicated in recent attacks on protesters; police, who are accused of repeatedly abusing their power; and Carrie Lam herself, whose resignation protesters have demanded practically from the start.
Lam’s characteristically evasive answers in a press conference this morning certainly didn’t help her cause, with frustrated reporters effectively shouting her out of the room as she refused to give straightforward responses or offer concrete solutions to the months-long crisis.
Pro-democracy lawmakers also expressed discontent with Lam’s responses at a press conference of their own earlier today.
“She basically means any problems related to the police force is none of her business,” pro-dem convenor Claudia Mo said.
Mo also called attention to Lam’s failure to deny her hands were tied by Beijing when it came to withdrawing the law, saying if it weren’t the case, “she should have taken [the question] as an insult, as it is her job to maintain the ‘one country, two systems’” framework.