A second pro-Hong Kong rally has been held in Melbourne’s CBD after clashes with Chinese nationalists on Friday night sparked a police warning that violence would not be tolerated, the Guardian reported.
More than a hundred people gathered outside the State Library on Swanston Street on Saturday for a peaceful rally in solidarity with protesters in Hong Kong. Among them were members of Melbourne’s Uyghur community as well as Tibetan and Vietnamese groups, carrying flags, posters and signs reading “We love Hong Kong! We love Australia” and “Step Down Carrie Lam Puppet. Let the HK people vote.”
Disturbing footage shows how pro-Hong Kong protesters were taunted with expletive-laden chants from pro-Chinese activists before scuffles broke out in Melbourne and Adelaide.
Hundreds of protesters converged in cities across Australia for the rallies in support of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong last night.
Footage seen by news.com.au shows Chinese students at a protest at the University of South Australia, in Adelaide, chanting “Cao ni ma bi” or “F*** your mother’s c***” to Hong Kong protesters.
In Melbourne, footage from last night shows pro-Chinese activists chanting “Jiao baba” — which roughly translates to “call us dad”.
There are fears tensions could flare again today as protesters gather in their hundreds in Sydney’s Belmore Park.
Other videos from last night show up to 1000 rival activists jostling as tempers flared at the demonstration in Melbourne — which began at 7pm outside the State Library in Swanston Street last night.
Among the chaos, an ABC cameraman was shoved by a man who then appeared to attack his gear.
The Herald Sun reports that pro-democracy advocates chanted “Free Hong Kong” as they gathered on the steps of the library, carrying signs pledging “solidarity with Hong Kong”.
Some of their posters read: “Say No to Hong Kong Police’s Brutality”, “Support Hong Kong people against tyranny” and “I can’t keep calm because Hong Kong is dying.”
Some were also wearing red bandages over their right eyes in solidarity with a girl who was allegedly shot in the by police in Hong Kong late last week.
A social media post by the rally’s organiser claimed it had been disbanded about 9pm due to “acts of violence from counter protesters”.
There was also a demonstration in Adelaide yesterday, where between up to 80 pro-Hong Kong protesters descended on the city campus of the University of South Australia.
The ABC reports that the protest became heated when more than 100 pro-Chinese demonstrators arrived, one of them claiming a pro-Hong Kong protester had put a hand on a female member of their group.
In Sydney, nearly 500 people gathered for a rally at Martin Place, which was more than three times more than the organisers expected.
The Australian reports that, by 7.15pm, the peaceful and silent protest in Sydney’s Martin Place was interrupted by a group of about 50 pro-China protesters who were yelling that Hong Kong was “part of China”.
Ariel Lui, a Chinese student at the University of Technology Sydney, was holding a sign that read: “Stop Violence, I support Hong Kong policemen”.
“I don’t like any people trying to set apart our country,” she told The Australian.
Police quickly moved them along and pushed them back to the other side of Martin Place.
The crowds were dispersed about 7:45pm.
CHINA FLEXES MUSCLE NEAR HONG KONG
Members of China’s paramilitary People’s Armed Police marched and practiced crowd control tactics at a sports complex in Shenzhen across from Hong Kong in what some interpreted as a threat against pro-democracy protesters in the semi-autonomous territory.
The sound of marching boots and synchronized shouts echoed from the grounds on Friday. Officers in green camouflage stood guard at closed entrances. A stadium security guard said “it wasn’t clear” when the paramilitary police would leave the grounds.
Chinese state media have only said that the Shenzhen exercises were planned earlier and were not directly related to the unrestin Hong Kong, though they came shortly after the central government in Beijing said the protests were beginning to show the “sprouts of terrorism.”
From a distance, police could be seen conducting drills in military fatigues, using shields, poles and other riot-controlgear. In one exercise, two groups marched in formation with those in front raising shields as if to protect themselves from projectiles. Others behind held red flags and banners. The words “the law” and “prosecuted” could be seen on one.
Outside, dozens of armored carriers and trucks sat in the parking lot of the Shenzhen Bay Stadium, close to a bridge linking mainland China to Hong Kong.
Asked if Hong Kong police could maintain order or if mainland Chinese intervention is becoming inevitable, Hong Kong police commander Yeung Man-pun said that while they face tremendous pressure, “I can tell you we’re confident the police have the capability to maintain law and order.”
Weeks of protests in Hong Kong have been marked by increasing violence and a shutdown of the Hong Kong airport earlier this week. The demonstrators are demanding expanded political rights and the scrapping of legislation that could have seen criminal suspects sent to mainland China.
A weekend of protests began Friday night with a university student-led “power to the people” rally in Chater Garden, a public square in the financial district. A pro-democracy march is planned for Saturday along with a separate pro- government “Save Hong Kong” rally, ahead of a major pro-democracy rally called for Sunday. Police have denied permission for the march on Sunday, but protesters have ignored such denials in the past.
— Yves Dam Van reported from Hong Kong.
Edited by staff