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Thousands of Protesters Demand 'Real Autonomy' in Hong Kong

Police responded to protesters' "emergency call" for meaningful autonomy with tear gas.

Fresh protests began in Hong Kong on Saturday amid concerns that Beijing plans to tighten its control in the territory. Over 3,000 gathered in Victoria Park, a place where vigils and demonstrations are often held.

Police released tear gas into the crowd and fired a dozen rounds to quell the protest, which authorities said did not have official police permission to take place.

“The entire government is being controlled by the central government now, so we have to come out to protect the freedoms we deserve,” a 17-year-old protester told the AFP news agency.

China announced on Friday that they will not tolerate any challenge to Hong Kong’s system of government. They also plan to increase patriotic education in Hong Kong.

Some protesters occupied streets in the upscale Causeway Bay shopping area. Riot police were present, conducted searches and issued warnings that the rally was illegal. Many protesters defied a government ban on face-masks. Many wore gas masks.

Also read: A Year of Protest: The Rapid Decline in Civic Freedoms World Over

‘Emergency Call’

Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong called for 100,000 people to take to the streets on Saturday in the anti-government protests. This week is the 22nd week of unbroken protests.

“Exercising freedom of assembly has become increasingly difficult as police in HK holds the tighter grip in recent months,” he wrote on Twitter.

He described this fresh protest as an “emergency call” for increased autonomy. Many protesters carried British or colonial flags, in reference to the promises made by the UK in 1997 at the time of the handover.

The protests began in June over a now-defunct proposal to allow extraditions to mainland China. In the following months, protesters began to demand direct elections for Hong Kong’s leaders.

Hong Kong will hold district council elections next month.

The article was originally published on DWYou can read it here