Police fire tear gas at crowded Hong Kong rally

Police fire tear gas at crowded Hong Kong rally

Police fire tear gas at crowded Hong Kong rally

At today's rally, more than one thousand people gathered in a park surrounded by some of Hong Kong's tallest skyscrapers, chanting pro-democracy slogans as they listened to speeches by activists.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was brought back to China in 1997. "While the framework of one country, two systems" promises the territory greater democratic rights than are afforded to the mainland, protesters say their freedoms have been steadily eroding under Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The "Universal Siege Against Communism" demonstration was the latest in a relentless series of protests against the government since June, when Hong Kongers took to the streets to voice their anger over a now-withdrawn extradition bill.

Among the key demands of the protest movement are an independent inquiry into police action, amnesty for the 7,000 people arrested and fully free elections.

Beijing and local leader Carrie Lam have refused further concessions and defended police tactics.

"The government understands the aspiration of the community for universal suffrage", it added.

But the police-approved rally was abruptly called off early by police, who soon fired tear gas to disperse the large crowd gathered near Chater Garden.

In response to Sunday's rally, Hong Kong's government released a statement that warned against any foreign involvement.

But as the crowds swelled and spilled onto surrounding streets, some protesters briefly barricaded roads with umbrellas, traffic cones and other street furniture and dug up bricks from the pavement.

"It was very peaceful inside the venue but then suddenly the police grabbed the mic and announced that the rally had to end". To save their comrades, riot police officers intervened with sticks, throwing tear gas and pepper sprays. The global-coordinated effort was aimed at calling on governments around the world to pass laws similar to the United States' Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which allows for sanctions, such as freezing assets and denying entry, on Hong Kong and Chinese government officials who have violated human rights.

Tsang Chung-bun, Assistant Commander of Yau Tsim district, where burglary reports for the second half of 2019 hit a five-year high, said it was inevitable that protests would take their toll on police resources.

At Pedder Street, several blocks from Chater Garden, police arrested at least 12 people, among them 9 males.

Speaking to media on Sunday night, Senior Superintendent Ng Lok-chun of the Hong Kong Island Region, said Lau was arrested for inciting the public and for breaching the terms of the letter of no objection issued for the rally because he failed to assist in maintaining order.

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