07/02/2012, 00.00
HONG KONG - CHINA
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March in Hong Kong: "Now we want universal suffrage"

by Eugenia Zhang
Some protesters who took to the streets to protest against the visit of Hu Jintao, the new government of the Territory and the erosion of fundamental rights, tell AsiaNews: "We have waited for 15 years, now they have to listen to us." The Catholic community in prayer before the march for democracy and the rule of law in China.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - More than 400,000 people in Hong Kong people took to the streets on July 1, which marked the 15th anniversary of the handover, under a heat of 31 degrees Celsius, to call for democracy and freedom in Hong Kong as well as the truth of the death of Li Wangyang. Police said 63,000 people protested at the peak time.

The mass rally and march took place six hours after the inauguration of the fourth government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on July1. The protesters mainly demanded resignation of the new chief executive CY Leung, an investigation into the death of Li Wangyang, as well as defending core values of Hong Kong, including freedom, human rights, and implementation of full democracy.

Slogans most heard were calls for "Down with CY Leung". Leung was sworn-in before Chinese President Hu Jintao that morning in Hong Kong. He won the chief executive election with Beijing-backed votes but was not honest on having illegal structures at home. Also, local people were dissatisfied with the much-delayed implementation of "one-person one-vote" system of electing chief executive and all legislators.

In the inaugural ceremony, Hu urged the new government and the people of Hong Kong to promote social harmony and stability, uphold the Basic Law, enhance its competitiveness and nurture the development of talents. Basic Law is a mini-constitution that stipulates the "One Country and 'Two Systems".

Leung Chun-ying, said in his inaugural speech, said he would start work in leading Hong Kong in seeking change while preserving stability.

However, a protester in the march, who was holding a self-made banner to call for resignation of Leung and for universal suffrage for Hong Kong, said: "We have been waiting for 15 years for one-person one-vote since the handover in 1997. Leung is not honest and does not have the confidence and trust of Hong Kong people. He was elected out of a small circle and backed by Chinese government." Her view was shared by others interviewed by AsiaNews at the scene.

Other protesters also urged for the disclosure of truth of how Li Wangyang, a pro-democracy dissident jailed for 20 years and suffered tortures, but "died suddenly" after giving an interview to Hong Kong media. His family members were "missing" after the funeral. Local government said Li "had committed suicide". On June 17, more than 20,000 Hong Kong people had protested and urged the Chinese authorities to give a genuine investigation into the cause of his death.

Another protester at Victoria Park, where the march began, told AsiaNews: "We demand justice for Mr Li and his family. He was courageous and had suffered tortures since 1989 for the democracy of China. We demand a clear explanation of the situation of his death.

Before the march, the Catholics and Christians held a prayer gathering at the Victoria Park. Christians prayed for press freedom, youth, democracy, freedom of expression, rule of law and the future of Hong Kong and the weak in the society. Catholics in the diocese prayed for the territory and China during Masses on July 1.

 

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