RALLYING
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Hong Kong localism and independence

Hong Kong localists remain defiant at ‘historic’ rally

Independence advocates vow to press on, despite being barred from September Legislative Council polls

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 August, 2016, 6:31pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 August, 2016, 5:14pm

Hong Kong independence advocates banned from next month’s Legislative Council elections vowed at a defiant rally on Friday night that they would press on with their cause and campaign for wider public support.

The gathering, dubbed the “first pro-independence rally in Hong Kong”, went peacefully at Tamar Park outside the government headquarters in Admiralty.

About 2,500 people, mostly the young and some middle-aged, took part, monitored by about 500 police officers on the ground with another 500 on stand-by at police stations.

Five of the six disqualified pro-independence candidates attended the rally. Taking centre stage from among them was high-profile Hong Kong Indigenous member Edward Leung Tin-kei.

Referring to the stage backdrop reading “Hong Kong Independence” in Chinese characters, Leung said: “This is the first time that these four characters ... have appeared in Tamar Park and so many Hongkongers came out. This is a historic moment.”

He said he could not utter those words himself because he would launch a legal challenge against his disqualification.

The University of Hong Kong philosophy student called on the crowd to continue the cause, speaking of “revolution”.

“We need to usurp power and reclaim the power we deserve. Hong Kong’s sovereignty doesn’t belong to [President] Xi Jinping, the Communist Party, the Chinese or local governments – the sovereignty always belongs to the people,” Leung said.

“You might associate it with bloodshed, jail or suppression ... But revolution is a change from the bottom up. Would you ask Beijing and the Hong Kong government to change from top down and give us democracy? ­Impossible.”

The independence movement would take time to win hearts and minds, Leung said, citing the 1911 Chinese Revolution which took 16 years to materialise. Leung noted that a recent public opinion poll found 17 per cent supported their cause. “We need to win more support and one day we will be the mainstream,” he said.

Hong Kong localist leader could have been elected if allowed to run, survey shows

Leung’s candidacy was invalidated even after he signed an additional declaration agreeing to drop his independence stance, with a returning officer telling him that she did not trust he had “genuinely changed his stance”. Leung is challenging the decision.

Chan Ho-tin, convenor of the Hong Kong National Party and another disqualified candidate, said his ultimate aim was to have his camp “govern” the city, but he stopped short of saying how they would achieve that goal.

The 25-year-old engineering graduate from Polytechnic University said he envisioned a “quiet” revolution with people “infiltrating” the government and police force.

A woman attending the rally said she hoped Hong Kong could become independent so there would be no more Chinese Communist Party interference” in the city affairs. She supported the use of violence to enforce change because “otherwise the Communist Party will not listen”.

Also in the crowd was a public hospital nurse, who said he was motivated to attend by the disqualification of Leung.

“Some candidates are deprived of the right to run and their supporters are deprived of the right to choose,” he said.

At the end of the rally, Chan called on people to support him by “voting” for him in the September elections “in their own ways”.

Asked by reporters whether he meant voters should write down his name on ballot paper, Chan said it was up to the voters to decide.

Three other rejected Legco candidates advocating independence or separatism at the rally were independent Chan Kwok-keung, Nakade Hitsujiko of Nationalist Hong Kong, and Alice Lai Yee-man of the Hong Kong Conservative Party.

Separately, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, a former student leader of the Occupy movement now running for Legco, said his leaflets had been banned by the Electoral Affairs Commission. The commission wrote to Law saying using the phrase “a binding referendum” for self determination violated the Basic Law.

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