More than 1,000 people turned out on Monday in defiance of a ban on public gatherings to mark the first anniversary of the death of Hong Kong protester Marco Leung Ling-kit.
Video footage posted to Twitter from the city showed hundreds of people lining up to lay flowers at a makeshift shrine to Leung outside the Pacific Place shopping mall in Admiralty.
Despite a strong police presence outside, a crowd of several hundred also gathered inside the mall, singing the anthem of the pro-democracy movement, “Glory to Hong Kong.”
“In spite of the repression, still quite a few brave citizens are gathered at Pacific Place, Admiralty, to remember Marco Leung’s fall on June 15 last year,” activist and writer Kong Tsung-gan wrote on his Twitter account.
“It was for many a moment of reckoning, of realizing how serious the #HK freedom struggle had become & the sacrifice required.”
Small shrines and public expressions of grief were seen elsewhere in the city, photographs showed.
A chalk drawing in Mei Foo showed the yellow raincoat the 34-year-old Leung was wearing when he died, which became an early symbol of the anti-extradition movement.
“We remember Leung Ling-kit, an anti-extradition protestor who fell to his death from a building this day last year while hanging a protest banner,” Hong Kong Twitter user Sophie Mak tweeted.
Pro-democracy leaders facing trial on charges of “illegal assembly” during the protest movement stood in silence for three minutes to honor Leung’s memory before entering the court building.
Meanwhile, protesters handed out white ribbons, a traditional mourning color, to passersby to mark Leung’s death in Tsuen Wan.
Leung fell to his death on June 15, 2019 after unfurling a banner that read: “Completely Withdraw the China Extradition Bill. We Were Not Rioting. Release the Students and the Injured.”
The ruling Chinese Communist Party and the Hong Kong authorities have repeatedly described mass protests that have rocked Hong Kong since June 2019 as “riots,” caused by “foreign interference” in the city.
Beijing recently announced last month it will impose a draconian anti-subversion and sedition law on Hong Kong, enabling its feared state security police to enforce the new legislation.
Deng Zhonghua, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, said on Monday that the new law would be “unchallengeable,” and that Beijing reserved the right to supervise and handle certain cases directly.
Lee Cheuk-yan said the prosecution of pro-democracy figures shows that Hong Kong is already seeing mass political prosecutions.
“This trial is a political prosecution, the purpose of which is to warn the people of Hong Kong that they will get prosecuted … if they come out onto the streets,” Lee said.
“But our position is clear … they may oppose it, but we have a constitutional right to protest.”
Reported by Lau Siu-fung and Wong Lok-to for RFA’s Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.