This article originally appeared on VICE Asia
Earlier this week, Hong Kong’s embattled Chief Executive Carrie Lam openly condemned the hordes of protesters who had been rallying in the city’s streets. Following a weekend of violent clashes that left at least 22 people in hospital and at least 40 demonstrators in jail, Lam labelled the mostly young protesters as “rioters”—a term that carries legal consequence in the region—while police commissioner Stephen Lo called them “thugs”.
In response, an estimated 9,000 elderly Hong Kongers took to the streets last night in a show of solidarity with the young anti-extradition bill protesters, Hong Kong Free Press reports. The demonstration, billed as a march for the “silver-haired,” saw several-thousand senior citizens rallying toward the centre of the city to denounce police handling of recent protests. One of the protest organisers, activist Yeung Po-hi, read aloud a statement in support of “our youth in their struggle of no return.”
“In their fight against the extradition bill, our youth brave truncheons, tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, violent arrest, and harsh punishment,” Yeung said. “We are proud of them—their determination, mobilisation, and tactics, teamwork, and self-organisation.”
The statement also endorsed protestors’ actions on July 1, when they stormed the Legislative Council building, describing the move as a “symbolic provocation” to the Chinese Communist Party and a justifiable response by young Hong Kongers.
Although the silver haired march was meant to be a silent protest—with participants being encouraged to write their demands on a ribbon and tie it up outside the government headquarters—many shouted slogans along the way such as “Carrie Lam step down” and “no rioters, only a tyrannical regime.” One sign carried by the silver-haired marchers read "young people you are not alone", according to Fairfax.
The ongoing spate of protests in Hong Kong, which began over a month ago, were initially sparked by the introduction of a controversial extradition bill that critics say would allow Beijing to arbitrarily extradite criminal suspects to mainland China, threatening Hong Kong’s independence and rule of law. Lam said last week that the bill was “dead,” but this has not appeased activists, who want her to withdraw the bill entirely so that it can’t be resurrected. They also want her to resign—since they blame her for the bill’s introduction—along with an independent investigation into police behaviour, and universal suffrage.
These demands were reiterated in last night’s march.
“This is an all-encompassing movement,” one silver-haired protester, referred to as Mr Lee, told Hong Kong Free Press. “Elderly, middle-aged and young people all oppose [Carrie Lam].”
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