Consulate march presses G20 agenda

Some 10,000 people gathered at Edinburgh Place in Central last night for a rally against the fugitive bill threatening to stay on the streets until G20 summit starts in Osaka on Friday.

Cindy Wan

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Some 10,000 people gathered at Edinburgh Place in Central last night for a rally against the fugitive bill threatening to stay on the streets until G20 summit starts in Osaka on Friday.

The Civil Human Rights Front organized the assembly ahead of the G20 summit hoping world leaders will put pressure on the central and SAR governments. But Beijing has said that discussion of Hong Kong is strictly off-limits at the meeting.

At the rally, a manifesto relating to the bill was in several languages used by G20 countries. Later protesters chanted slogans such as "Free Hong Kong" and "Withdraw the evil bill."

Protesters vowed to stay on the streets until G20 summit starts in Osaka on Friday.

After the assembly at Edinburgh Place ended, some including activist Joe Yeung Yat-long and disqualified lawmaker Baggio Leung Chung-hang marched to police headquarters in Wan Chai. They will be joining others to besiege Justice Place this morning, to be followed by Government House.

Earlier, some 1,500 people marched to major foreign consulates, calling on leaders headed for the G20 summit to raise the plight of Hong Kong with China and to support the withdrawal of a controversial fugitive bill.

Carrying placards that read "Please Liberate Hong Kong" and shouting "Help Hong Kong," the protesters - some wearing masks - marched to a succession of consulates represented at the G20 summit in Osaka this weekend.

Starting from Chater Garden, the protesters headed to the US and British consulates and European Union office, handing letters to representatives and reading out the content.

The crowd then split into three teams to petition the consulates of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Russia, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey.

Consulate rally convener Ventus Lau Wing-hong said they were marching to draw the attention of world leaders who can convey Hongkongers' demands. "We hope they can pressure President Xi Jinping to promise to keep Hong Kong's high autonomy, so it can keep its unique status in the international sphere," he said.

Lau dubbed the rally as "a marathon," saying it is a historic moment as so many Hongkongers are appealing for help from multiple foreign consulates in a single day.

Altogether 15 consulates and the EU office sent representatives to receive the petitions from demonstrators. The exceptions are Russia, India and Indonesia.

"The extradition bill is a major challenge against universal human rights, freedom and liberty," a protester read from the letter. "We hope that with G20's multi-stakeholder approach, views [of the participating countries] will be on our side."

Another protester said he hoped the United States will increase pressure on China through actions such as freezing assets of Hong Kong officials and reviewing the US-Hong Kong Policy Act. They also held banners reading "Free Hong Kong from China Colonization" and distributed leaflets in 10 languages.

In response to people's call for international attention, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing strongly opposes foreign governments, organizations or individuals interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China domestic policies.

He said the G20 forum on global economic cooperation is focusing on strengthening coordination in macro-economic policies - and that Hong Kong issues are not part of the discussion.

Meanwhile, the campaign to place ads in international newspapers continued with more papers agreeing to reserve space for an open letter calling for international attention to Hong Kong at the summit.

Apart from The New York Times and Financial Times, South German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail will show the ads today.

The ad campaign organizer - Freedom Hong Kong - is awaiting confirmation from The Australian, Washington Post, Japan Times, French newspaper Politico, Korean daily The Chosun Ilbo, Taiwan's Apple Daily and various other newspapers. It said funds reached some HK$6.73 million, instead of the HK$5.5 million displayed on the GoGetFunding site.

Meanwhile, thousands of people attended a Civil Human Rights Front assembly in Edinburgh Place at 8 last night, where a statement in multiple languages seeking international attention to Hong Kong was read.

It asked G20 leaders to answer questions such as "Does Hong Kong deserve democracy?" It also asked: "Should Hong Kong people enjoy democracy?" and "Can a democratic system be implemented in Hong Kong now?"