‘We’re still here’: Hong Kong protesters return to streets

Police counter stone-pelting with teargas shells

Thousands of pro-democracy protesters hit the streets of Hong Kong for a tenth weekend in-a-row on Sunday, defying police who fired volleys of tear gas at several locations.

The protests followed a night of “hit-and-run” rallies across the city and came after Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam insisted she would not meet the demands of demonstrators.

Early Sunday afternoon, thousands of protesters met in the city’s Victoria Park, braving hot and humid conditions and a police ban on the gathering.

“The police should try their best to maintain public security instead of rejecting our request to march,” said a 25-year-old protester who gave only her family name, Wong.

“We’re still here… We won’t worry that much about illegal assembly. We still have our rights,” she told AFP.

Police also denied the protesters a permit for a second rally in the city’s working class Sham Shui Po neighbourhood.

But the pro-democracy activists, whose protests are now in their third month, defied authorities in both locations, and staged additional protests in several other parts of the city.

Persistent protests

Sunday’s protests come after a night of cat-and-mouse demonstrations around the city, with protesters taking their mantra of flexible action – “Be Water” – to new heights.

And while riot police fired tear gas and arrested 16 people, the two sides avoided the lengthy pitched battles that have been seen in recent weeks.

“Our aim is no injuries, no bleeding and not getting arrested,” said a 17-year-old student protester who gave his family name as Chan.

“I think our previous tactics of staying in one place led to many arrests and injuries… We need to ‘be water’ to avoid injuries,” he told AFP at the Victoria Park gathering on Sunday.

The demonstrations that began more than two months ago in opposition to a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China have morphed into a broader bid to reverse a slide in democratic freedoms in the city.

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