Hong Kong protests: Pro-democracy demonstrators take to the streets for the New Year's Day march

By YP Team

The Civil Human Rights Front initially obtained a letter of no objection by the police on Sunday for the rally, but the police terminated the event early

By YP Team |

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Anti-government protesters form human chains in Tsim Sha Tsui on New Year's Eve.

Pro-democracy protesters have started gathering at Victoria Park for the New Year's Day march, organised by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF). 

CHRF were granted a letter of no objection from the police on Sunday. Today's march will set off from Victoria Park at 3pm, and end at Chater Garden in Central at 10pm. 

There will be 42 newly founded labour unions groups stationed outside Southorn Playground in Wan Chai, as well as the Chater Road Pedestrian Zone in Central. They are urging people to register and join the various unions, to enable people to strike more efficiently. 

This follows an evening of tear gas and rubber bullets on New Year's Eve, after more than 6,000 police officers were deployed to handle the chaos. 

Over the Christmas holidays, more than 6,400 people were arrested for various offences, and skirmishes between black-clad protesters and police errupted in several malls across Hong Kong. 

This wraps up Young Post's coverage of today's events. For ongoing information, check out the SCMP's live blog.

 [UPDATE - January 1, 5.45pm]

A protester is waving a flag that says “Hong Kong Independence” on the top of the train station at Bank Street outside the Court of Final Appeal, chanting “Hong Kong independence, the only way out”.
Photo: SCMP / Kelly Fung

 [UPDATE - January 1, 5.47pm]

 [UPDATE - January 1, 5.39pm]

The Hong Kong police have ordered the Civil Human Rights Front to terminate the march early. Police requested a deadline of 6.15pm for everyone to leave. Tear gas has been fired in Wan Chai.

 [UPDATE - January 1, 5.32pm]

Throngs of people are still making their way out of Victoria Park through the various exits, and towards Hennessy Road, hours after the official start of the march.
Photo: SCMP / Doris Wai

 [UPDATE - January 1, 4.57pm]

Photo: SCMP / Kelly Ho

More labour union booths are set up outside Chater Garden in Central. Marchers are in queue to submit their personal information to join the unions.

[UPDATE - January 1, 4.50pm]

Karmen (left) and her friend, Ting, both 25, have joined today’s protest to demonstrate for what they believe in: freedom, and to not be under the control of the Hong Kong and Beijing governments.

Karmen is the owner of a party room and has participated in the yellow economic circle as a business owner. “We encourage everyone to join the store boycott, and we want to let everyone know that all voices count, no matter how big or small. We also have a Lennon wall in our store. We are not worried about [losing] money because we are fighting for the next generation.”

When asked about Carrie Lam’s most recent video in which the chief executive says she hopes to rebuild the city and will not shy away from her responsibilities, Kamen says the HK government is just putting on a show.

Photo: SCMP / Doris Wai

[UPDATE - January 1, 4.34pm]

Photo: SCMP / Rhea Mogul

 In Central, Civil Human Rights Front vice-convener Figo Chan Ho-wun appealed to marchers to donate to the Front. He said it takes HK$500,000 to organise each march, and the Front is running out of funds.

[UPDATE - January 1, 4.19pm]

A 19-year-old student surnamed “Hui”, who does not wished to be photographed, says she has been joining protests since June 9 because the now-withdrawn extradition bill is politically motivated and not just about the Chan Tong-kai’s alleged murder of his girlfriend in Taiwan. Hui’s motives expanded to include police accountability for alleged brutality. She has joined boycotts and is actively participates in the 'yellow economic circle'.

“My new year’s wish is a peaceful Hong Kong, and the government replying to our demands. Five demands, not one less!”

[UPDATE - January 1, 4.19pm]

Photo: SCMP / Kelly Fung

Klay Chan, a representative of Standby Educator Hong Kong and a local Chinese language teacher, told us that the union is still in the organising process and will possibly be launched in Feb 2020.

Chan said it first started in a Telegram chat group, where a group of education workers thought of establishing a new platform apart from the current Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union and Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers to centre opinions.

“We hope to gather the voice of the education sector and act on defending the rights and profession of educators in the face of white terror, which is the first step in our plan.” 

Chan believes the problem of white terror at its core does not come from schools, but the education bureau. “As you can see, more than 80 teachers have been arrested." He also noted the recent statements from the Secretary of Education regarding teacher miscondut during the protests. 

Chan commented that the recent accusations against educators are terrifying, as they could be used for political suppression.

“In one case a teacher was accused of using 'inappropriate teaching materials', however, we received no official reports on the content, so we are unable to know what the teacher supposedly did wrong,” Chan said.

“We as teachers we hope to do something to spread the voice of teachers and let students know we want to make contributions,” said Chan.

[UPDATE - January 1, 4.14pm]

Photo: SCMP / Rhea Mogul

Queensway: protesters march towards Central, while many are still gathering at Victoria Park. They chant slogans of freedom as they walk down the streets.

Hong Kong independence flags are lined up outside Pacific Place in Admiralty.
Photo: SCMP / Rhea Mogul

[UPDATE - January 1, 3.49pm]

Photo: SCMP/ Kelly Ho

Some protesters put up posters that highlighted key dates and events since the movement began in June. The first poster reads “from summer to winter - the struggles we have been through together in 2019”.

[UPDATE - January 1, 3.44pm]

Photo: SCMP / Doris Wai

Leon, 21, is back for his summer holidays from Australia. He felt sad and angry after watching the Yuen Long attacks on July 21 and decided to come back to Hong Kong in time to vote in the recent district council election.

“The elections worked because the police have been much more restrained after that and the US has also passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act,” he said. 

Leon studies music and says “Glory to Hong Kong” is the anthem of the people.

“Songs and music are very powerful in uniting people, for example, this protest anthem ‘Glory to Hong Kong’. We don’t feel anything when we hear the Chinese anthem, but I have seen people crying when they heard ‘Glory to Hong Kong’, myself included. Some long rallies like these are exhausting, and this song cheers us up and lifts our spirits.”

[UPDATE - January 1, 3.46pm]

The owner of a "yellow shop" on Hennessy Road in Wan Chai showed solidarity with marchers.
Photo: SCMP / Kelly Ho

[UPDATE - January 1, 3.45pm]

Paul Zimmerman, member of the Southern District Council for Pokfulam, marches towards Central with the crowd.
Photo: SCMP / Rhea Mogul

[UPDATE - January 1, 3.55pm]

Riot police outside police HQ in Wan Chai. Protesters walk past and shout profanities.
Photo: SCMP / Rhea Mogul

[UPDATE - January 1, 3.15pm]

Photo: SCMP / Kelly Ho

Michael Chan, Chairman of Railway Power, said the union was founded on November 19 because many employees of the MTR want their voices be heard by management, and to show the public that not all frontline staff agree with the company’s policies during the protests. 

Some MTR employees have signed two joint petitions to urge the management to address public concerns surrounding the incidents that happened on July 21 and August 31, but the reply they got was very “formal”.

So far, the union has recruited over 300 members through Facebook and Telegram, and they are hoping more people would sign up during the march today. 

Chan, who is a train captain of the East Rail Line, admitted he couldn’t do anything to stop protesters from disrupting train services or vandalising the facilities inside the stations, but he emphasised he would not cut ties with them because he understood why people were angry at the company. 

“When the movement first began, there was no destruction. But when the MTR started to close the stations, Iike many people, I began to wonder if the MTR has ‘surrendered’ to authority,” he said.

Chan said many people have asked him why he didn’t simply quit his job; he explained he sees the union as his last shot to try making a difference in the company. 

“We really hope that the union will be a channel for us the change things up in the company. It doesn’t matter if those are just some minor changes, we want to give it a try,” he said.

Some MTR staff created stickers featuring protesters’ demands in a design that resembles the ones inside the MTR trains.
Photo: SCMP / Kelly Ho

[UPDATE - January 1, 3.26pm]

Andrew Chiu, the pro-democracy lawmaker whose ear was bitten off during a fight, joins in the procession.
Photo: SCMP / Rhea Mogul


Protesters hold up their hands to show the five demands as the CHRF van passes through Hennessy Road.
Photo: SCMP / Rhea Mogul

[UPDATE - January 1, 3.20pm]

On Hennessy Road, the Civil Human Rights Front is leading today’s march to Chater Garden. Protesters chant “5 demands not one less” as a truck passes by.
Photo: SCMP / Rhea Mogul
CHFR convenor Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit is with the group leading the procession.
Photo: SCMP / Rhea Mogul

[UPDATE - January 1, 3.16pm]

Photo: SCMP / Doris Wai

There is tension in the air as the crowd marches from Victoria Park and chants the usual slogans “five demands, not one less”, “No rioters, only tyranny”, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong”.

Some of them carry banners like the one above calling for the five demands to be met.

[UPDATE - January 1, 3.08pm]

Representatives from different labour unions hold a banner with the words “Labour unions resisting tyranny” while marching from Victoria Park.
Photo: SCMP / Doris Wai

[UPDATE - January 1, 3.00pm]

Photo: SCMP / Kelly Ho

Some of the possessions of the man arrested at Southorn Playground for possession of offensive weapons. He appears to have a bottle that is labelled as baking soda, a respirator, a box of screws/ pins, some clothes and a spray bottle.

[UPDATE - January 1, 2.49pm]

Photo: SCMP / Doris Wai

23-year-old Jimmy is studying for his Masters in engineering and believes this is the last chance for protesters to voice their opinions. He first joined the mass protest on 9 June.

When asked about the different protest tactics, Jimmy says: “The yellow economic circle is working because the government and state media are condemning it. They are scared.”

He adds that class boycotts are not as effective because students still care about their academics and some of them have set up tutorial channels on Telegram.

His wish for the new year is “Five demands not one less.”

[UPDATE - January 1, 2.26pm]

People gather in Victoria Park before the march is set to begin at 3pm.
Photo: SCMP / Rhea Mogul

[UPDATE - January 1, 2.14pm]

Protesters wear Pepe the Frog masks and pig masks while holding up their hands to reiterate the five demands at Victoria Park.
Photo: SCMP / Rhea Mogul

[UPDATE - January 1, 2.30pm]

Hennessy Road is blocked by riot police.
Photo: SCMP / Kelly Fung

[UPDATE - January 1, 2.20pm]

Photo: SCMP / Doris Wai

20-year-old Edwin Shiu, a Hongkonger who is currently studying overseas, has been back in Hong Kong since last week for his vacation.

“I have been paying attention to the movement since last April and am joining today’s protest because I feel the goverment has not been doing its job and ignores the voices of the people. I was born and raised here. Everything that happens in Hong Kong matters to me.”

Shiu says he has occasional discussions with his family and even though he and his dad have different political opinions, it has not affected their relationship. Even though Shin has only been back for a week, he has actively participated in store boycotts by refusing to go restaurants that are pro-government or pro-police. He hopes that the violence ends soon and the government will be more open-minded.

[UPDATE - January 1, 2.28pm]

Photo: SCMP / Kelly Fung

A standoff occurs between riot police and people from different labor unions at Southorn Playground.

[UPDATE - January 1, 2.22pm]

The scene at Southorn Playground.
Photo: SCMP / Kelly Fung

[UPDATE - January 1, 2.20pm]

Photo: SCMP / Kelly Fung

Police arrived at Henessey Road outside Southorn Playground and arrested a person at one of the labor union booths.

Around 30 riot police are at the scene, blocking Hennessy Road where more than 15 labor union booths are set up

[UPDATE - January 1, 2.14pm]

[UPDATE - January 1, 1.56pm]

Photo: SCMP / Rhea Mogul

The face of the Umbrella Movement, Joshua Wong Chi-fung, on Great George Street telling the crowd that the police must be held accountable for what they have done. 

[UPDATE - January 1, 1.30pm]

Photo: SCMP / Doris Wai

17-year-old Marcus (not his real name) is the conveyor of an anti-ELAB group in his college. He joined the movement in June 2019 and is determined to continue doing so until all five demands are met.

“The movement has changed from short-term to long-run over the last six months. I understand that some people have left the city and chosen to put their safety as a priority and I do not blame them, but this is far from over.”

Marcus hopes that people, especially teenagers from around the world will look to Hong Kong as an example and join the city in its fight for “universal sufferage”.