Members of a pro-democracy group staged a stunt at an MTR station on Friday to call on Hongkongers to join their rally on Sunday against the controversial extradition law and the city-wide general strike on Monday.
Seven members of Demosisto, founded by student leaders such as Joshua Wong and Nathan Law, knelt down at Mei Foo MTR Station at 7am, chanting slogans and holding placards marked ‘Boycott Class, Labour Strike, Save Hong Kong’.
Their activity was live-streamed on video on the group’s Facebook page. It followed a call by the Civil Human Rights Front, which organized the rally last Sunday – that drew over a million people, for another protest march this Sunday, plus a city-wide general strike on Monday.
The two groups are determined to maintain pressure on Hong Kong authorities to back down on their controversial and unpopular move.
Demosisto’s action appeared to be in good order and did not cause any disturbance in the concourse area. Some members of the public cheered them on, while others criticized them for disrupting their journey.
The seven young people were later escorted out of the station by police officers and MTR staff. Their identity cards were checked by the officers before they were freed to leave, according to a note by Joshua Wong on Facebook.
Debate on the extradition bill was canceled on Friday at the Legislative Council, which meant things were calm around the LegCo building and government’s headquarters – unlike Wednesday when around 40,000 people besieged the site and there were violent clashes, with police firing rubber bullets at unarmed protesters and using pepper spray to disperse the crowd.
The number of police on the scene had decreased, but there were still some officers equipped in helmets who checked the ID cards of people in the area.
Some 20 people appeared again on the pedestrian bridge, singing hymns, after an unusual press conference on Thursday evening held by around 50 priests and preachers.
The priests have accompanied the protesters since Tuesday night, singing hymns together in the protest zones. And they later criticized police for using excessive force against people who were largely unarmed.
About 20 religious ministers were stuck between the protesters and police, singing ‘Hallelujah to the Lord’ hand in hand, trying to keep both sides calm and avoid any clashes, although police seemed uneasy at times.
The protest situation turned ugly on Wednesday afternoon, but Reverend Wong Siu-yong of the Church of Livingstones in Kowloon said he did not see any protesters instigate or use violence against the officers. However, police suddenly fired pepper spray and dispersed the mob with batons, without warning.
When another priest Lam Ka-ying asked the police to give out a warning before dispersing the crowd so protesters could move back, police replied: “Go ask your Jesus to come down and meet us.”
Lam, humiliated and sad, then asked: “Who pushed all these young people onto the street?”
Another priest, Woo Chi-wai of the Hong Kong Church Renewal Movement, said he witnessed a group of frightened young protesters. He criticized Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who claimed that she was a “caring mother”, saying she was in fact “abusing her children”.
They requested a meeting with the Chief Executive but said they had received no response.
Meanwhile, two Filipinos and an Australian sent out 700 free hotdogs to the protesters on Wednesday when police fired tear gas in Admiralty. This was despite the Philippines Consulate advising Filipinos to stay away from areas of mass demonstrations to avoid getting caught in possible clashes.
Filipinos Dennis and Miguel, who have lived in Hong Kong for 30 years, and Australian ‘Sandy’, who said he had been in Hong Kong for 15 years, said they cooked hotdogs to show their support for the protesters, Apple Daily reported.
The trio distributed the hot dogs in the demonstration zone while police shot tear gas across the streets. Some protesters came up and helped them while other protesters gave them warm applause after getting a meal.
“My heart is melted,” Dennis said, and he hoped the protesters’ effort would not be in vain.
The Philippine Consulate issued an advisory note on Wednesday, telling Filipinos to stay away from Admiralty because of demonstrations in the city. “Should our nationals find themselves among the crowds of protesters, they should exercise extreme caution and vigilance in order to keep themselves safe from any isolated act of violence that might occur,” it said.
The Consulate told Filipinos in Hong Kong to keep themselves updated on the security situation via media reports.
Warning to Filipinos
Eman Villanueva, chair of the Filipino Migrant Workers Union, also advised any Filipino workers near the protests to study the situation and avoid any confrontation with police, sunwebhk.com reported.
“Remember that since the ‘riot’ was categorized by the government as a confrontation on Wednesday, [so] anyone who has been arrested and charged .. may be convicted of up to 10 years. This may cause unemployment.”
Villanueva said activists understood why migrants had limited capacity to get involved. But he said migrant workers should also be concerned about the extradition bill, because if the bill is passed it could be used by tyrannical rulers to their advantage.
Other migrant leaders expressed admiration for the united front shown by Hong Kong people in fighting the extradition bill, but mixed views over calling their fellows taking part in the protests.
There are about 370,000 foreign domestic helpers in the territory, nearly half of them from the Philippines.
The Consulate issued a second advisory on Thursday, advising Filipinos to avoid the demonstration areas for their own safety on Sunday.