0447 GMT January 27, 2020
It was the first time since August that the Civil Human Rights Front – organizer of million-strong marches earlier in the year that paralyzed the Asian finance center – had received authorities’ permission for a rally.
It estimated turnout of hundreds of thousands, according to Reuters.
Chants of “Fight for freedom! Stand with Hong Kong!” echoed as demonstrators, from students to professionals and the elderly, marched from Victoria Park in the bustling shopping district toward the financial area.
The former British colony of 7.4 million people reverted to Chinese rule in 1997. It is governed under a “One Country, Two Systems” formula.
“It’s Christmas time soon but we’re not in the mood to celebrate anymore,” said Lawrence, a 23-year-old student.
China blames the six months of unrest on interference by foreign governments including the United States and Britain.
On Saturday, two leaders of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong were denied entry to the neighboring Chinese city of Macau, without explanation.
Lam says she has heard the people but has not offered concessions despite a resounding win for pro-autonomy parties in local elections two weeks ago. They secured almost 90% of 452 district council seats in a record turnout.
At Sunday’s protest, chants of “five demands, not one less” rang out, referring to demands ranging from Lam’s resignation to an amnesty for detainees.
Police said they arrested another 11 people, aged 20 to 63, confiscating weapons including army knives, firecrackers, bullets and a semi-automatic pistol, the first seizure of a handgun during the protests.
Once rare for Hong Kong, violence has escalated throughout the year, as protesters have torched vehicles and buildings, hurled petrol bombs, dropped debris from bridges onto traffic and vandalized shopping malls. Police have responded with tear gas, water cannon and, at times, live fire.
Protests coalesced in June over a now-shelved extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial, then evolved into broader democracy calls.