Hundreds of Hong Kong senior citizens showed their support for young anti-extradition bill protesters on Wednesday by joining a silent march in searing heat in Hong Kong.
Despite 34C temperatures and a “very high” air pollution level, organizers estimated about 9,000 elderly people gathered in Central and marched to the government’s headquarters in Admiralty to call on the administration to address people’s demands over the extradition bill.
Police estimated 1,500 people joined the march.
The senior citizens’ march was held to show support for the young Hongkongers who staged a number of protests over the implementation of the highly controversial bill.
Protesters have demanded that the government withdraw the bill completely, set up an independent commission of inquiry to look into recent events, drop charges against protesters and give Hong Kong people universal suffrage.
The older protesters – some with walking sticks, mobility walkers and wheelchairs – marched from Charter Garden in Central, past the Court of Final Appeal, Statue Square and Prince Building, Pacific Place and Queensway Plaza to the government headquarters.
Though it was described as a silent march, they chanted “Carrie Lam Step Down,” and “Hong Kong People Aid Oil” among themselves.
When they arrived at the Pacific Place, mall security guards offered assistance, directed them to the escalators, and allowed them to cool down in the air-conditioned building from the sweltering heat outside. The guards were praised for their help, compared to Sha Tin mall where clashes broke out between protesters and police on Sunday night.
As they marched, a number of youngsters assisted the elderly, waving fans and providing water and cooling gel pads. Some young people held a placard saying “Thank you seniors to be with the youngsters” and bowed in respect as they passed. The older marchers hugged the youngsters and reminded them to be careful to avoid any police action.
Some demonstrators said they were saddened by the recent clashes.
Fiona Tam, who is in her fifties, told Radio Television Hong Kong that she supported the young protesters as she believed they wanted to make Hong Kong a better place.
Tam also said she has sympathises with the police, and blamed government inaction for the conflicts between protesters and police officers.
Another marcher said he had gained a lot from Hong Kong’s economic boom in the past and now wanted to contribute to society by taking part in the march and supporting the youngsters.
Mrs Tsang, a retired 63-year-old, said she joined the march because she supports the youngsters and worries about their safety, Apple Daily reported.
Deanie Ip, a veteran local singer and actress who has won the Hong Kong Film Awards once for Best Actress and three times for Best Supporting Actress and had joined previous marches, said Carrie Lam is to be blamed for the protests, not the brave young people.
Former lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung said now it’s now time for all generations to join hands to protest against the chief executive and her administration, Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
He urged Lam not to use police force to solve the political issue, adding that she should announce the bill withdrawal at once and set up the independent inquiry to investigate the whole saga first, then handle other demands from the protesters.
Meanwhile, the Civil Human Rights Front, the organizer of previous rallies of a million people, said the police had approved another rally to be held on Sunday.
The approval came after a suggestion by pro-establishment lawmaker, Ann Chiang and members of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, that the government and the police force should consider the risk of violence before granting permission for further rallies.
The march on July 21 will start from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay at 3pm and continue to the Court of Final Appeal in Central.
Organizers say they picked the city’s top court as the final destination as they want the government to set up an independent inquiry, to be led by a judge, to look into the policing of recent anti-extradition protests. They said they believe that only such an inquiry can restore peace and calm in society.