Asia

Hong Kong braces for ’emergency’ protest call for autonomy

HONG KONG: Hong Kong anti-government protesters are due to march on Saturday (Nov 2) in what has been billed as a global "emergency call" for autonomy for the Asian financial hub that was guaranteed its freedoms when it returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong called for 100,000 people to rally in what would be the 22nd straight weekend of protests.

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Protesters have taken to the streets for five months of sometimes violent unrest, angry at perceived Chinese meddling with Hong Kong's freedoms, including its legal system and politics. China denies the charge.

READ: Tear gas as Hong Kong protesters don Halloween masks

Activists have attacked police with petrol bombs, set street fires and trashed government buildings and businesses seen as pro-Beijing.

One policeman was slashed in the neck with a knife last month.

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Police have responded with tear gas, pepper spray, water cannon, rubber bullets and occasional live rounds. Several people have been wounded.

Anti-government protesters hold umbrellas as riot policemen warn regarding use of tear gas during a protest on Halloween day in Hong Kong, China October 31, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Wong was disqualified on Tuesday from standing in upcoming district elections, a move he said was "clearly politically driven".

"If more and more people, not only a few thousand, but if more than 100,000 Hong Kongers take to the streets tomorrow, it can let the world know how Hong Kong people fight for a free election," he told reporters on Friday.

READ: Chinese leadership says it will ensure Hong Kong's stability and prosperity

The bespectacled Wong was a leader of the student-led street protests of 2014 but has not been in the forefront of the current unrest.

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