Democracy protesters pledge to keep faith
More than 3,000 protesters calling for democracy in China marched on the headquarters of Xinhua (the New China News Agency) yesterday, pledging to continue their battle beyond the handover.
Some of the protesters, marking the seventh anniversary of the June 4 Beijing massacre, scuffled with police outside the building in Happy Valley.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Patriotic Democratic Movement in China, which led the protest, vowed to carry on despite concerns about its future.
Alliance chairman and legislator Szeto Wah claimed the group would be the first organisation to be attacked after the change of sovereignty.
'The alliance will bear the brunt of attack not just because we support China's democracy movement, but also because we stand in the front line as a test for the Special Administrative Region.
'Our activities, existence and fate will be the barometer of the SAR's democracy, freedom, human rights and rule of law.' Though the alliance would face great difficulties, it would have the courage to overcome them, he said.
Another legislator and alliance member Albert Ho Chun-yan said: 'We will continue to protest, and if that means breaking the law after 1997, then we are prepared to go to prison for it.' The three-hour march - with twice as many people as last year - began at Chater Garden.
Exiled mainland dissident Han Dongfang, jailed by China for his role in the Tiananmen Square protests, warned of violent clashes after 1997. 'We probably won't be allowed to do this.' Outside Xinhua, core members of the alliance placed a wreath and a flag with a phoenix emblem symbolising democracy.
But scuffles broke out when April 5 Action Group members tried to place a black coffin bearing the words 'the people's heroes will be remembered forever'.
Police confiscated the coffin. One man was arrested, but later released. A crowd marched to Wan Chai police station to protest against police behaviour.
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