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In Hong Kong, 'Peace Is the No. 1 Priority Today'

Rain doesn't slow protests down, but activists hope to avoid recent violent clashes with police
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 18, 2019 5:40 AM CDT
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Protesters, some wearing eye patches to show solidarity to a woman reportedly injured in her eye by a beanbag fired by police, hold up a banner that reads: "Medical workers and citizens march together" in Hong Kong Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019.   (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
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(Newser) – Heavy rain fell on tens of thousands of umbrella-toting protesters Sunday as they marched from a packed park and filled a major road in Hong Kong, where mass pro-democracy demonstrations have become a regular weekend activity. Organizers said they hoped the assembly would be peaceful, which would make for a rare calm weekend in a movement that has been marked by violent clashes with police. "We hope that there will not be any chaotic situations today," said organizer Bonnie Leung. "We hope we can show the world that Hong Kong people can be totally peaceful." Leung's group, the Civil Human Rights Front, has organized three massive marches in Hong Kong since June. The protest movement, however, has been increasingly marked by clashes with police as demonstrators vent frustrations over what they perceive to be the government's blatant refusal to respond to their demands.

"Peace is the No. 1 priority today," said Kiki Ma, a 28-year-old marcher. "We want to show that we aren't like the government." While police granted approval for the rally, the AP reports that they didn't approve an accompanying march. Demonstrators nevertheless fanned out and filled the streets, as there was not enough space at the designated assembly area. In Beijing, You Wenze, a rep for China's ceremonial legislature, condemned statements from US lawmakers supportive of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement as "a gross violation of the spirit of the rule of law, a blatant double standard, and a gross interference in China's internal affairs." Harley Ho, a 20-year-old social work student who attended Sunday's rally, said protesters would not rest until their demands were met. "We will stand here, we will take action until they respond to us," she said. "In the rain, our spirit becomes stronger."

(Read more Hong Kong stories.)

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