Hundreds march on National Day in support of political prisoners

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 October, 2013, 4:01pm

Hundreds of people marched yesterday to call for the immediate release of mainland political prisoners, saying that for them National Day is a day of shame.

Protesters marched silently from Causeway Bay to government headquarters in Admiralty, each wearing a white card around their neck with a political prisoner's name written on it.

Lee Cheuk-yan, one of the organisers of the protest, said more than 141 people had been arrested for exercising their rights in China since March this year, far more than in past years.

"We have no national pride on National Day, only shame," Lee said. "China should move onto the road of political reform and start to respect human rights."

He said human rights conditions in China were worsening and called for UN member states to reject China as a member of the Human Rights Council.

Among the marchers was Jens Galschiot, the Danish sculptor who created the University of Hong Kong's Pillar of Shame to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

"[To show] real love for a country is [to] want her to become a better place," he said

The march also attracted the attention of mainland tourists who lined the footpaths with their cameras up, capturing a scene rarely seen across the border. Tourists Zosy Zuo and Luo Jie, who arrived from Shenzhen yesterday, said they had never seen anything like the protest. "The protest is so powerful," said Zuo, who had never heard of any of the imprisoned dissidents.

Mr Wu, also a mainlander, had travelled to Hong Kong to join the protest.

"I am coming to support Xu Zhiyong [one of the imprisoned dissidents], but I am disappointed that so few people showed up today," said Wu.

He hoped Hong Kong people and mainlanders would start to care more about the human rights situation in China.

Separately, about 30 members from the League of Social Democrats and the Defence of Hong Kong Freedom were removed by police at 6.30pm from a lane off Queen's Road Central, where they had been sitting in a stand-off with police for three hours. They had been marching to the central government's liaison office in Western with a coffin.

Police said the officers had acted with due consideration of public order and safety.