Thousands join rally in Sydney

SYDNEY (AFP) – Thousands rallied in Sydney to support Hong Kong democracy protesters yesterday, kicking off a day of planned “anti-totalitarianism” demonstrations globally.

In one of the largest solidarity marches in Australia since Hong Kong’s latest pro-democracy movement began in June, black-clad participants took to the streets chanting “Add oil”, a protest slogan denoting encouragement.

Some Sydney protesters held signs that read ‘Save Hong Kong’ and ‘Stop tyranny’, while others carried yellow umbrellas or handed out paper cranes in scenes that played out in other major cities across the country yesterday.

Pro-China supporters stayed away, avoiding a repeat of the tense scenes that flared last month when opposing rallies held on the same day led to confrontations between the two sides.

Bill Lam, 25, who attended demonstrations in Hong Kong before moving to Sydney for study two months ago, said protesters had become “very desperate” and simply wanted authorities to respect “their basic human rights”.

“I came here but I want to support them from Australia,” he told AFP. “I feel so sad every night because I watch the live video (from Hong Kong) on Facebook and some social media.”

Supporters of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters gather ahead of a march in Sydney. PHOTO: AFP

Frankie Lo, 47, said he had lived in Australia for years, but continued to care deeply about the situation back home.

“We still believe in one country, two systems, but they just have to follow the Basic Law,” he said, referring to the legal code that underpins the financial hub’s semi-autonomous status. “It’s not about independence.”

He added that besieged Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam should set up an independent committee to investigate allegations of police brutality.

“It’s something that we don’t want to see,” 25-year-old Tony Chung said of the violence that has featured in many of the summer protests. “It’s Hong Kong people fighting against Hong Kong people, which doesn’t make sense at all.”

In Taipei some two thousand people, many dressed in black, gathered under torrential downpours outside parliament, the largest Hong Kong solidarity protest so far this summer on the island.

Last Saturday’s rally in Taipei was largely peaceful although Hong Kong popstar Denise Ho, a staunch democracy advocate, had red paint thrown at her by an unidentified assailant as she spoke to local media.

Similar rallies were held in more than 40 cities worldwide as part of a global day of action in support of Hong Kong protests.