07/01/2019, 08.38
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Police and protesters clash as Hong Kong marks the 22nd anniversary of the return to China

by Paul Wang

Carrie Lam, who arrived via ferry to avoid demonstrators, was interrupted by a member of parliament who shouted at her to resign.  In the afternoon, the march of 1st July.


Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - This year, the official ceremonies for the 22 years of Hong Kong's return to the Chinese motherland were held for the first time indoors (photo 1): in the streets around Bauhinia square thousands of protesters clashed  with the police (photo 2).  According to an official press release from the police, at least 13 policemen were injured in some way.

Officially the ceremony was held indoors due to some rain showers in the early morning, but in reality the decision is due to the fact that tension and clashes were expected after the demonstrations in recent days to demand the cancellation of the China extradition law, the resignation of chief executive Carrie Lam and an independent inquiry into police violence against demonstrators.

Already in recent days an ordinance had forbidden students to attend the ceremony.  Half an hour before it took place, the riot police clashed with thousands of protesters in the streets around, demanding that they leave the area of ​​the Exhibition Center, where the ceremony was held.

The flag-raising ceremony of the banner of Hong Kong (a white bauhinia on a red background) and that of mainland China was held outside, but the participants inside followed via a cable TV.  Immediately afterwards, Carrie Lam, who arrived at the site via ferry to avoid crossing the protesters, gave a short speech in which she promised once again to listen more to "public sentiments" and above all the young people of the area.

Today's was the first public appearance by Lam, after she had apologized last June 18 for her management of the extradition law.  At the beginning of her speech, Democratic parliamentarian Helena Wong Pik-wan interrupted her shouting: "Carrie Lam step down, withdraw the evil law"  Wong was immediately removed by security guards.

In the late morning, 10 people staged a flag-raising ceremony near the parliament building, raising a flag with bauhinia on a black background, as a sign of the "state of the territory" (photo 3).

Meanwhile, protests are expected throughout the day.  The Civil Front for Human Rights is preparing for the traditional 1 July march that will begin at Victoria Park and end at Legco (Hong Kong Parliament).

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