Supporters of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement lined the streets and part of the city’s harbor front Friday, inspired by a human chain in a historic Baltic states protest against Soviet control 30 years ago.
Some raised linked hands while others switched on their smartphone lights and held the devices aloft to create a row of white lights against the nighttime skyline. Organizers hoped the chains, which traced three subway routes, would total 40 kilometers (25 miles) in length.
It was the latest protest in a nearly 11-week-old movement that began with calls to scrap a now-suspended extradition bill and has widened to include demands for full democracy and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality at protests.
“It actually enraged me, the way that the government, the (city’s) chief executive and then the police, how they carry out their jobs,” said Michael Ng, who works in finance and joined the chain outside an upscale mall. “Very brutal, I would say. We are talking about human rights here.”
Police say their use of tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bag rounds has been necessary to clear streets of protesters who have pelted them with eggs, bricks and gasoline bombs.
In a protest dubbed “The Baltic Way,” nearly 2 million Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians formed a human chain more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) long on Aug. 23, 1989.
Organizers of “The Hong Kong Way” said it was a show of solidarity against the extradition law and police violence, as well as a plea for international support.
Earlier Friday, accountants marched in support of the pro-democracy movement, while the Canadian Consulate banned its staff from leaving the city on official business after a British Consulate employee was detained in mainland China.
A major trade union confederation said that the head of the cabin crew union at Cathay Dragon airline had been fired in retaliation for supporting the movement, adding to the chill in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.