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    Protesters call on UK to protect Hong Kongers

    HONG KONG (AFP) – Pro-democracy protesters rallied outside Britain’s consulate in Hong Kong yesterday, demanding London do more to protect its former colonial subjects.

    Hundreds of demonstrators sang “Rule Britannia” outside the consulate, waving the Union Jack as well as Hong Kong’s colonial-era flags.

    The protest came as another large rally made its way through the city streets yesterday afternoon in defiance of a ban by police, who warned the gathering was illegal.

    The once-stable international hub has been convulsed by weeks of huge, sometimes violent rallies calling for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability.

    The movement shows no sign of ending, with local leaders taking a hard line.

    Under a deal signed with Britain ahead of the city’s 1997 handover to China, Hong Kong is allowed to keep its unique freedoms for 50 years.

    Protesters carrying umbrellas take part in demonstration in Hong Kong. PHOTO: AP

    Democracy activists accuse Beijing of reneging on those promises by tightening political control over the semi-autonomous territory and refusing calls for universal suffrage. Many of the protest signs accused Britain of not doing enough.

    “Sino-British Joint Declaration is VOID,” one read, referencing the 1984 agreement that paved the way for the city’s handover, a deal that Hong Kongers were given no say over.

    “So far I’m quite disappointed by the fact that the UK hasn’t done anything to support us,” a protester told AFP.

    Many called for Hong Kongers who want to leave the city to be granted citizenship in Britain or other Commonwealth nations.

    Some Hong Kongers were given British National Overseas (BNO) passports before the handover, a document that allows holders easy travel to the UK but grants no working or residency rights.

    Earlier this week some 130 UK lawmakers signed a joint letter calling for Britain and Commonwealth countries to come up with an “insurance policy” for Hong Kongers to resettle overseas should they wish to.

    Hong Kong has been battered by nearly 100 days of protests.

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