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Thousands rally against Hong Kong government

Large crowds shrug off typhoon conditions to march

Thousands rally against Hong Kong government

Protesters in Hong Kong march to call for universal sufferage and the ouster of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying reporter, Hong Kong
Hong Kong

July 1, 2013

A crowd that may have numbered in the hundreds of thousands rallied today, demanding genuine universal suffrage and the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

Marching on the 16th anniversary of Hong Kong’s sovereignty returning to China, the six-hour rally surged from Victoria Park to Central, Hong Kong’s main business district. Spirits were hardly dampened by the torrential downpours and strong winds caused by Typhoon Rumbia.

Throughout the rally, “Leung Chun-ying, step down!” was the most frequently shouted slogan.

Discontent has been mounting since Leung took office on July 1, 2012. Opinion polls in June showed his popularity rate continuing to drop.

“Fellow schoolmates can go for entertainment but many of us opted to come here because of Leung’s disappointing performance and the deterioration of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle,” said Lai Chun-wing of the Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students.

The rally has become an annual event since its inauguration in 2003. The first event is thought to have contributed to the stepdown of then-Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa the following year.

Estimates of today’s numbers vary widely. The organizer, Civil Human Rights Front, claimed there were 430,000 people taking part, while the police put the figure at 66,000.

As a commercial counter-initiative, handover day was also celebrated as a shopping festival, with more than 1,000 stores offering discounts and promotion-linked events.

The organizer claims that the promotion atracted 220,000 customers. A Civil Human Rights Front spokesman described it as a deliberate move to divert attention and people from the rally, which ended peacefully at around 8.30 pm.

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