Hong Kong: With surgery masks on, anti-govt protesters stage sit-ins amid coronavirus outbreak

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 21, 2020, 09.12 PM(IST)

File photo of Hong Kong protests. Photograph:( Reuters )

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'We will never forget what happened on July 21,' a protester said.

Hong Kong protesters on Friday staged sit-ins in Chinese ruled city to mark the seven months of anti-government protests. The sit-ins also marked a mob attack on demonstrators which had triggered a widespread criticism for Hong Kong police.

Hundreds of protesters had gathered at two locations, Yuen Long train station, and near the border with the mainland, as they chanted slogans including "Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times" and "Hong Kong independence, the only way out!".

"We will never forget what happened on July 21," news agency Reuters quoted Lily, a protester as saying.

"We shouldn’t forget to resist despite the outbreak of the Wuhan pneumonia," she said, referring to the central city in mainland China where the coronavirus outbreak originated.

The former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997 amid promises it would be granted a high degree of autonomy and eventual universal suffrage.

China's tightening grip on the city and Beijing's failure to live up to its promises have fed the unrest, in one of the biggest popular challenges to the ruling Communist Party since the return.

Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers have held various rounds of anti-government and anti-China protests which initially began against the extradition bill but transformed into pro-democracy demonstrations.

During the protests, over 7,000 protesters were arrested in seven months of unrest. Of those, 1,092 have been charged, Hong Kong police chief Chris Tang told district councillors recently.

The Yuen Long violence was one of the highest-profile attacks since protests against a now-withdrawn extradition bill escalated in June last year.

Police had come under widespread criticism at that time for not preventing the attack, and for not immediately apprehending any of the attackers when they retreated into a nearby village and were surrounded by officers.

(With inputs from agencies)