Supporters of Hong Kong’s Occupy Central movement participated in a “black cloth march” on Sunday afternoon to call for genuine universal suffrage, rejecting China’s selected candidates for the next Chief Executive of Hong Kong.
Dressed in black and carrying large sheets of black cloth, more than a thousand protestors silently marched from one of Hong Kong’s most crowded commercial districts to the city’s financial center, where leaders of the civic organization Occupy Central plan to stage a sit-in protest in early October.
The banners carried messages like “the government has broken its promise,” “civil disobedience” and “boycott classes,” the latter in support of local students’ decision to go on a week-long strike on September 22.
A former British colony, Hong Kong was returned to Communist Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” form of government. It was given wide-ranging autonomy, including an undated promise of “universal suffrage” allowing it to elect it’s own leaders.
Beijing this summer has made it clear it will not allow fully democratic elections. Pro-democracy activists say China’s decision to tightly control who can be nominated for the 2017 vote means Hong Kong risks ending up with a “fake” democracy.
The protesters, who carried enormous black cloth ribbons through the streets, also held up signs calling for further civil disobedience and cheering on students planning to boycott classes.
“The proposed electoral plan is a step backward away from democracy. This march is the chance for folks to rethink and decide if they’d join the Occupy Central movement.” says Earnest Choy, 60, a protestor who identified himself as the former CEO of a Hong Kong-listed IT company headquartered in Beijing.
“We worry that the elected chief executive, under the guise of having ‘power delegated by the people,’ would push for schemes that Hong Kong locals do not actually welcome, such as a civic education reform that teaches kids to be loyal to the central government,” adds Choy.