quinta-feira, 2 de julho de 2009

Um de Julho em Hong Kong

Tens of thousands ignore heat to march for democracy

Agence France-Presse in Hong Kong
July 01, 2009

Tens of thousands of people took to the sweltering streets of Hong Kong on Wednesday for an annual pro-democracy march, as the city marked the 12th anniversary of its return to China.
Organisers said the major impetus for the turnout was a combination of dissatisfaction with the government's response to the economic slowdown, surging unemployment and delayed moves towards universal suffrage.

“The issues this year mirror those in 2003,” Lee Cheuk-yan, a march organiser and leading trade unionist, said.

“People are frustrated with a government which is unable to lead them through economic hardship and political crisis, although not to a point where they want the chief executive Donald Tsang to step down.”

The 2003 march was galvanised by an economic downturn, unpopular then-chief executive Tung Chee-hwa and controversy over the introduction of a proposed national security bill.

The show of people power saw the security legislation shelved and was a key factor in Tung's decision to resign the following year.

Opposition to the government, which is mainly driven by pro-democratic political parties, has grown as the latest global economic crisis has hit the financial and export hub hard.

The city fell into recession in the third quarter of last year and the government expects the economy to contract 5.5-6.5 per cent this year.

Democracy supporters were further buoyed by the record turnout of 150,000 at the candlelight vigil last month to mark the 20th anniversary of the bloody crackdown on protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Despite temperatures nudging 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit), many protesters gathered at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay more than an hour before the march, sporting umbrellas to protect them from the scorching sun.

Dennis Chan, 28, who joined the march for the third time, said: “We want to let the government know that this is not our government.”

Tommy Lam, 12, said: “Donald [Tsang] always changes his mind to make the Chinese government happy. But he does not think about our feelings.”

Simon Wong, a first-timer to the march, donned a t-shirt printed with the words “Donald Tsang Does Not Represent Me”.

“It was hard to explain why [I joined the march] but I felt I needed to be here,” the 22-year-old said.

The protesters sang the song “We Are Ready” and held banners to demand universal suffrage for the city's chief executive and legislature in 2012.

Beijing has said that universal suffrage would not come before 2017 at the earliest.

Among the crowd were also migrant workers who called to be included in the minimum wage legislation.

The protest coincides with celebrations for the 12th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, after the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.

A separate, smaller pro-Beijing parade took place earlier on Wednesday.

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