Concern group sees no conflict in taking to streets while recognising the handover The July 1 march could serve to both celebrate Hong Kong's return to China and the fight for democracy, prominent barristers from the Article 45 Concern Group said yesterday. But Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong, insisted next week's rally was not a celebratory procession but a protest. The comments follow recent remarks by pro-Beijing figures and mainland officials that July 1, which marks the seventh anniversary of the handover, was a day for celebration rather than confrontation. Independent lawmaker Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, a member of the Article 45 Concern Group, said she saw no conflict in taking to the streets and celebrating the handover on July 1. Ms Eu said that photographs taken on July 1 last year showed that people taking part in the protest march were very happy. 'The most touching part of the July 1 [march] is that people are not fighting with anger, but they adhere to the spirit of Hong Kong people, to express their hope to participate in Hong Kong affairs ... this is in no conflict with celebrating the return of sovereignty,' she said. Fellow concern group member Alan Leong Kah-kit said there were no inconsistencies between opposing the National People's Congress Standing Committee's decision to rule out universal suffrage in 2007 and 2008 and celebrating the handover. He said what Hong Kong people had experienced over the past seven years was different to what they had been promised in the Basic Law, such as 'one country, two systems' and a 'high degree of autonomy'. 'We go on the streets with smiling faces to reassert our beliefs, and to tell the SAR and the central governments why we're frustrated, why we're disappointed and why we're unhappy,' Mr Leong said. They were speaking as a group of young people from the concern group's online radio station launched a campaign to rally support for the march. Campaign spokesman Edwin Choi Ming-hei, 19, said they hoped young people would join Thursday's march to express their hopes for Hong Kong. In the latest issue of the Catholic Church's official weekly newspaper, Kung Kao Po, Bishop Zen writes: 'The July 1 rally is not a celebratory procession. It is a protest rally. A peaceful protest, but a strong protest nonetheless.' He said people had been disregarded, felt insulted and deprived of their rights after Beijing decided to rule out universal suffrage before Hong Kong people had had a chance to discuss the issue. 'The July 1 rally is a good occasion for us to let out our anger, to tell the central leadership how much those rude interventions have hurt our feelings and damaged mutual trust,' he said. 'Some people say that reconciliation is better than confrontation. Sure. But those who have caused the damage are bound to repair it ... let the offenders do something or let the higher-up leaders come to give a fair judgment.' Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung said the government respected people's right to express their views through different channels.