HONG KONG: Thousands of people held hands across Hong Kong late on Friday in a dazzling recreation of a pro-democracy “Baltic Way” protest against Soviet rule three decades ago.
The city’s skyscraper-studded harbour-front as well as several busy shopping districts were lined with peaceful protesters, many wearing surgical masks to hide their identity and holding Hong Kong flags or mobile phones with lights shining.
The human chain is the latest creative demonstration in nearly three months of rolling protests which have tipped Hong Kong into an unprecedented political crisis.
“We have tried traditional marches, we have tried more militant acts — although I don’t agree with them — this time we are coming out together to join hands and show that we are all still united,” Wing, who gave only her first name, said.
The protests started against a bill that would have allowed extradition to China, but have transformed into a wider rejection of Beijing’s tight grip on the semi-autonomous city and a defence of its unique freedoms.
“By doing this, we are showing people around the world the high quality of Hong Kongers. What people did 30 years ago, we can also do,” said Cat Law, a logistic worker in her 60s.
The Baltic Way was one of the largest anti-Soviet demonstrations, when more than one million people linked hands to form a human chain spanning over 600 kilometres on August 23, 1989.
Three decades on, the moving show of solidarity continues to inspire activists across the world.
The “Hong Kong Way” was called by the social media-driven protesters who have turned for the last several days to non-violent means of making their voice heard.
Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2019