Hunger strikers seek improved mainland human rights

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 December, 2006, 12:00am

Activists will stage a 24-hour new year hunger strike in Mong Kok in support of human rights on the mainland.

The protest, organised by the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, will go ahead after efforts to organise an international fast with allied overseas groups failed to gain support. The activists will start their hunger strike at noon on New Year's Eve.

'We hope the new year will bring better civil rights safeguards on the mainland,' alliance spokesman Lee Cheuk-yan said, referring to a series of incidents in past years in which civil rights activists and lawyers had been arrested.

About a dozen core members of the alliance would join the fast but not chairman Szeto Wah, Mr Lee said without giving a reason. 'The overseas alliance groups told us that it would be too cold for them to stage a hunger strike outdoors. They would instead issue statements in support of our action that day,' he said.

Mr Lee said it was the first time the group, which is also repeating its call for vindication of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protesters, had organised a new year hunger strike.

He said he knew of no plan to greet 2007 with a major street protest on January 1. 'A new year protest is not a regular feature,' he said, referring to the 100,000-strong January 1 march for universal suffrage in 2004.

Meanwhile, the League of Social Democrats will stage a bicycle ride from Wan Chai to the Central Government Offices on New Year's Day.

Andrew To Kwan-hang, secretary-general of the league, said the event was aimed as a protest against the forthcoming chief executive election, which the league has described as a 'small-circle' election.

'Our theme is stepping on the 'small circles', which are the wheels of the bicycles,' he said.