Radicals and religion on a rowdy Sunday
Lo Wei and Ada Lee
The central government's liaison office had a rowdy Easter Sunday as two of the city's most radical parties and a religious group banned on the mainland rallied outside during the day.
Hundreds of members of Falun Gong - branded an evil cult by Beijing - marched from North Point to the liaison office in Sheung Wan. A 150-strong concert band, dressed in blue-and-white uniforms, led the 400 members of the spiritual movement.
Falun Gong organiser Doris Li Ming-yan said the members were mostly from Hong Kong, but there were also more than 100 from Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore in the rally calling for an end to religious persecution on the mainland. 'They came to Hong Kong just for today's rally,' Li said.
The Falun Gong rally was preceded by protesters led by the League of Social Democrats and members of the April Fifth Action group, demanding the release of detained mainland artist Ai Weiwei and in support of the so-called jasmine revolution in China. Core members of the two political groups overlap.
Each of the league and April Fifth protesters held a bunch of white flowers as some threw pieces of yellow paper on the ground, representing paper offerings to the dead. They chanted slogans saying: 'Let Ai Weiwei go home'. Dozens of police maintained order and there were no arrests.
But about a dozen league members clashed with police at an event organised by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.
They also confronted Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, who was a guest at the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park in Western district for the launch of the DAB's student trip to Zhongshan and Wuhan in memory of the 1911 revolution led by Sun.
The league members were held off by dozens of police officers and their blockades. Chanting slogans outside the park, the group tried to push inside. Eastern district councillor Tsang Kin-shing known as 'the Bull', and another league member broke through an entrance while Tang was speaking but they were soon led away by police officers. The league said Tang had worked with property tycoons at the expense of the public and the DAB had no business celebrating the revolution's centenary.
DAB chairman Tam Yiu-chung, who was at the event, denounced the league protesters' behaviour as childish. 'There are a lot of ways to express views, and the league doesn't need to take action like that of my immature [two-year-old] granddaughter.' League vice-chairman Avery Ng Man-yuen said all league members were rational. 'They're only expressing themselves in public.'