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Hong Kong protesters form human chain in tribute to Baltic Way

Eastern Mirror 2019-08-23 22:14:44

Demonstrators hold signs as they gather at the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront in Hong Kong, Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. Demonstrators were planning to form a 40 kilometer (25 mile) long human chain Friday night to show their resolve. They said the “Hong Kong Way” was inspired by the “Baltic Way,” when people in the Baltic states joined hands 30 years ago in a protest against Soviet control. AP/PTI

Hong Kong, Aug. 23 (IANS): Tens of thousands of Hong Kong protesters formed a human chain on Friday spanning dozens of districts in a fresh pro-democracy intervention that paid tribute to the Baltic Way — one of the largest anti-Soviet demonstrations which saw over a million people linking hands to form a chain spanning over 600 km.

On the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way which helped bring an end to Soviet rule, a large number of participants shouting “free Hong Kong” and “Stand with Hong Kong, fight for freedom”, gathered on the streets near dozens of metro stations on Hong Kong island, in Kowloon, and the New Territories to hold hands and create the “Hong Kong Way”.

This was a “peaceful” action organized by netizens via LIHKG, a Reddit-like forum used by protesters in the ongoing anti-government movement that has stretched into its 11th week and has plunged Hong Kong into its biggest political crisis in decades, Efe news reported.

The Baltic Way or the Baltic Chain took place on August 23, 1989, when around two million people in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania formed a human chain spanning 675 km, to protest the Soviet occupation that was made possible by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, signed between the USSR and Nazi Germany in 1939.

The massive Hong Kong protests started in early June against a now-shelved extradition bill, which would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China. The move was seen by dissidents as an end to the judicial freedom enjoyed by the city.

However, the civil campaign has since morphed into a broader movement seeking democratic reforms in the Chinese special autonomous region and ultimately opposing Beijing’s authoritarian rule.

According to the Hong Kong handover deal between London and Beijing, the “one country, two systems” formula – which includes certain freedoms for Hong Kong not recognized in mainland China – must be preserved until 2047.

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