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Dozens gathered in central Hong Kong and at a major university campus on Monday for rare protests against China’s strict Covid-19 restrictions and to mourn the victims of a deadly fire in the mainland’s northwest. online news
The small-scale protests were a show of solidarity with demonstrations across China where frustration has peaked over the country’s harsh zero-Covid policy.
Students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong chanted slogans in both Cantonese –- Hong Kong’s local language -– and Mandarin.
“Don’t look away. Don’t forget. We are not foreign forces. We are Chinese youth,” they shouted.
Political dissent and mass assemblies in Hong Kong have been quelled or forced underground since Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law in mid-2020, while group gatherings in public places have been banned since the pandemic.
Protesters at the university also adopted a slogan written on banners hung over a Beijing bridge just before the Communist Party Congress in October.
“We want freedom, not nucleic acid tests. We are citizens, not slaves.”
Most held a piece of white paper in front of their face –- a practice adopted by protesters in mainland China — and lined up candles to form the number “1124” to symbolise November 24, the date of the fire in Urumqi that killed 10 people.
In Hong Kong’s main commercial district, a small group of residents holding white paper were rounded up by police, who took down their names as the protesters continued to stand in silence and defy warnings about the ban on public gatherings, videos circulated online showed.
“I would like to mourn the victims of the Urumqi fire and to show support for students and residents who protested in the mainland,” one demonstrator told reporters.
Another participant held up a large placard with handwritten words reading: “If they fear not, why should I? I am a HongKonger. I came out because my heart aches.”
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