Hong Kong activists mark one month of "Umbrella Movement"

Hong Kong democracy activists today marked one month of mass protests, calling on supporters to gather for an evening rally wearing the masks they have used to ward off police tear gas and pepper spray.

AFP| Updated: Oct 28, 2014, 13:47 PM IST

Hong Kong: Hong Kong democracy activists today marked one month of mass protests, calling on supporters to gather for an evening rally wearing the masks they have used to ward off police tear gas and pepper spray.

Organisers striving to inject new momentum into the movement told crowds to gather at the main protest camp opposite the city's government headquarters for commemorations starting with an 87-second silence at 0957 GMT.

At that time on September 28, riot police shot 87 volleys of tear gas at crowds of largely peaceful protesters who had taken over a highway near the city parliament.
That decision backfired, drawing tens of thousands of sympathisers onto the streets and kickstarting a movement that has become the most concerted challenge to Beijing since the bloody 1989 Tiananmen protests.

Demonstrators are calling on Beijing to rescind its insistence that candidates standing to be the city's leader in 2017 must be vetted by a loyalist committee- an arrangement demonstrators deride as "fake democracy".

But the Chinese government shows no sign of backing down and protest leaders are unsure of how to achieve their goals.
Occupy Central, one of the main protest groups, called on supporters to don the same protective masks and goggles they wore to defend themselves when the street rallies descended into chaotic confrontations.

The protests have been dubbed the "Umbrella Movement" following the creative ways demonstrators used to shelter themselves from the heat, torrential rain, pepper spray and police batons.

A Facebook group has called on supporters to open umbrellas en masse at 6 PM to "express our disappointment and outrage" over police heavy-handedness and the lack of political progress. Nearly 10,000 people have so far pledged to take part.

Hu Jia, a prominent Chinese dissident on the mainland currently under house arrest, said he would unfurl his own umbrella in solidarity with Hong Kong.
"I will participate in this event. In my home prison in Beijing," he told AFP.