(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong demonstrators gathered for a second day in the New Territories, pledging to spread their protest against leader Carrie Lam’s refusal to retract controversial draft extradition legislation.
People marched in the district of Sha Tin, a popular destination for visitors from the mainland. A bigger-than-expected turnout meant protesters had to leave the designated starting point earlier than planned and some did not walk along routes approved by the police, Hong Kong’s RTHK radio news website reported.
Yesterday, scuffles broke out between police and demonstrators after a rally against parallel traders ended in Sheung Shui, near the China border. More than 30,000 people took part in the largely peaceful march, according to North District Parallel Imports Concern Group convenor Ronald Leung. Police estimated the turnout at 4,000.
It was the first weekend of protest in the city since Lam, chief executive of Hong Kong, declared “dead” controversial draft legislation that would allow extraditions to the mainland and sparked weeks of historic demonstrations. She stopped short of officially withdrawing the bill, leaving open the potential for authorities to revive it with 12 days’ notice and providing new momentum for protesters.
Further protests are now being planned in neighborhoods across the city by demonstrators organizing themselves online and vowing to spread the word in districts across the city until Lam responds to their demands.
The Civil Human Rights Front, a leading protest organizer, on Friday called for a new rally July 21 in the Admiralty area, ground zero for previous gatherings that brought hundreds of thousands of people on to the streets. The group’s major demand will be an independent probe into what they call excessive use of force by police in dispersing previous demonstrations with weapons including tear gas, batons and rubber bullets.
Protesters’ ire has in recent days focused on China, to whose rule it returned in 1997. Thousands of demonstrators last Sunday walked through the Tsim Sha Tsui area popular with mainland tourists toward the city’s new high-speed rail station to China, in order to reach out to visitors from China.
China has continued to back Lam. Its top official in Hong Kong on Thursday said Beijing continues to “fully” support her and the police’s efforts to safeguard social order in the city. Beijing trusts the government “to continue to govern effectively in accordance to the law,” said Wang Zhimin, director of China’s liaison office in Hong Kong.
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