Hong Kong protesters are forming a human chain 30 years after the Baltic Way democracy protests
Thomas Peter / REUTERS
Thomas Peter / REUTERS
- Hong Kong protesters joined hands on the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way, when an estimated 2 million people protested Soviet rule by forming a human chain across Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.
- "Hongkongers, let's make history together and let the world witness our solidarity," a promotional video for the demonstration said.
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Thousands of chanting Hong Kong protesters joined hands to form human chains on Friday in a peaceful protest, with almost three months of anti-government demonstrations showing no sign of let-up across the Chinese-ruled territory.
Demonstrators, families young and old, some people masked, some using hand wipes to stay clean, linked hands across different districts as others held up banners thanking overseas nations for supporting "freedom and democracy" in Hong Kong.
According to the Hong Kong Free Press, some protesters carried signs in a variety of languages, including Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian, thanking foreign countries for their support of Hong Kong protesters.
"Hongkongers, let's make history together and let the world witness our solidarity," a promotional video for the demonstration said. "Let's hold each other's hands and defend this city with our bodies and our will. Let's show the world our determination to resist tyranny."
Their move echoed one on August 23, 1989, when an estimated 2 million people joined arms across the three Baltic states in a protest against Soviet rule that became known as the "Baltic Way" or "Baltic Chain."
The protest, which included dozens shining lights from the top of Kowloon's Lion Rock, visible from the main island of Hong Kong, showed the apparent defiance of Hong Kong people after warnings from Communist Party leaders in Beijing and Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam about violence.
But protesters are also planning a "stress test" of the airport this weekend, and some, wearing their traditional black garb, were making their way from the nearby suburban town of Tung Chung on Friday night.
The unrest has widened into calls for greater freedom, fueled by worries about the erosion of rights guaranteed under a "one country, two systems" formula, adopted after the 1997 handover, such as an independent judiciary and the right to protest.
China's Hong Kong affairs office condemned the mayhem as "near-terrorist acts," and protest organizers wrote Friday online, "Go to the airport by different means, including MTR, airport bus, taxi, bike and private car to increase pressure on airport transport."
The Airport Authority published a half-page notice in newspapers urging young people to "love Hong Kong" and said it opposed acts that blocked the airport, adding that it would keep working to maintain smooth operations.
The Canadian consulate said it had suspended travel to mainland China for local staff, just days after a Chinese employee of the city's British consulate was confirmed to have been detained in China.
Canada's latest travel advisory on Thursday warned of reports of increased screening of travelers' digital devices at border crossings between mainland China and Hong Kong.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Canada's decision not to allow local staff to visit the mainland was one for Canada, which it respected.
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China said it had received multiple reports of Chinese border officials detaining journalists and searching their digital devices when traveling between the mainland and Hong Kong.
Transport Secretary Frank Chan said airport passenger volume from August 1 to August 21 was down 11% from the same period last year, with cargo volume down 14%.
The protests have caused corporate casualties, most dramatically at the Cathay Pacific airline, amid mounting Chinese scrutiny of the involvement of some of its staff in protests.
Demonstrators have five demands: withdraw the extradition bill, set up an independent inquiry into the protests and perceived police brutality, stop describing the protests as "rioting," waive charges against those arrested, and resume political reform. Beijing has sent a clear warning that forceful intervention is possible, with paramilitary forces holding drills just over the border.
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