Several thousand Hong Kong school teachers and supporters braved thunderstorms on Saturday to start a weekend of anti-government protests, despite fears that police could adopt tougher tactics to drive activists off the streets, reports Trend citing to Reuters.
Following the escalation in violence during the past few days, the demonstrations this weekend will provide a litmus test as to whether the protest movement can retain the broad support that it has appeared to enjoy.
Demonstrators say they are fighting the erosion of the “one country, two systems” arrangement that enshrined some autonomy for Hong Kong since China took it back from Britain in 1997.
During the past week they have increasingly directed their frustrations toward police, who have responded with fiercer determination to clear them from the streets.
Yu, aged in her 40s and a music teacher at a local secondary school, said she was determined to show support for protesting students, even though she didn’t agree with all their actions.
“I do appreciate their courage and caring about Hong Kong...they are definitely braver than our government,” she said.
The teachers rally - which organizers estimated drew 22,000 people whereas police said 8,300 - had been approved by police.
After gathering peacefully in the Central business district, they marched on the Government House residence of Hong Kong’s embattled leader Carrie Lam, chanting “Hong Kong police know the law, they break the law”.
“If Carrie bothered to respond to our demands at the very beginning, nobody would get hurt,” Lee, a retired primary school teacher, said.
Anti-government demonstrators were also expected to march through Kowloon districts popular with traders and tourists from mainland China.
The pro-democracy Civil Human Rights Front, which organized peaceful million-strong marches in June, has scheduled another protest for Sunday.
“We all feel tensions are building and the level of stress is increasing,” one front-line protester, Pun, 22, told Reuters during a sit-in at the international airport earlier in the week.
“I know violence cannot fight violence but sometimes aggression is needed to attract the attention of the government and others,” he said. “I have thrown rocks...I have also been hit by police with batons. We’re all slowly getting used to this.”
Thousands of mostly young protesters forced a shutdown of flights at the city’s Chek Lap Kok international airport on Monday, disrupting flights until late Tuesday.