Protesting what they see as Beijing violating Hong Kong’s freedoms, demonstrators from the League of Social Democrats, Demosisto and People Power rushed and climbed the Golden Bauhinia statue, a gift from Beijing.
Tse Kwok-wai, superintendent of police, said there was no security breach as the area was open to the public. Though he respects the rights of citizens to express their opinion, the superintendent doesn’t condone being disruptive or disturbing the peace.
Police arrested 26 demonstrators aged 19 to 61, 20 men and six women, including Agnes Chow, Nathan Law and Joshua Wong of the Umbrella Movement, a grassroots pro-democracy effort protesting the policies of the ruling Communist Party of China
The protesters maintained a presence in the area, effectively shutting it down, until 10 p.m., and firefighters had to be called in to remove protesters still perched in the statue at 9 p.m. The last activist to leave was Wong Ho-ming of the League of Social Democrats, who surrendered at 9:30 p.m.
The protest comes as a group of democratic legislators signed a petition beseeching the president to kickstart Hong Kong’s stalled reform plans and to uphold the political framework that protects the city’s rights, often called "one country, two systems."
The petition, which the lawmakers hope to hand Xi at dinner Friday, says in part, "We agree that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China … However … the central government and its liaison office have increasingly emphasised ‘one country’ but derogated 'two systems', and even interfered with Hong Kong’s internal affairs in multiple sectors,” according to the South China Morning Post.
As Xi prepares to arrive Thursday for the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China from the UK, opposition from activists has intensified after word spread of Nobel Peace laureate and political dissident Liu Xiaobo being released from prison on Monday on medical parole for late-stage liver cancer.
Liu was jailed in 1989 for pro-democracy activities following the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Protesters hung a black banner demanding suffrage for Hong Kong and Liu’s unconditional release. Raphael Wong Ho-ming, of the League said, "We are here to convey our demands and I am sure Xi will see it."