Hong Kong protesters to rally in support of Catalan activists - GulfToday

Hong Kong protesters, Catalan activists find rallying point

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Anti-govt demonstrators hold banners as they protest in front of the UK consulate in Hong Kong. Umit Bektas/ Reuters

The protesters in Hong Kong and those in Catalonia have one thing in common: both seek independence. The demonstrators in both the places harp on the theme of breaking away from the grip of their respective central governments. Both also seek reforms to improve the political climate.

In this connection, Hong Kong protesters plan to rally on Thursday evening to show solidarity with people demonstrating in Spain’s wealthiest region of Catalonia over jail sentences handed out to nine separatist leaders.

The protests in Catalonia share some noticeable comparisons with the demonstrations in Hong Kong, where millions have taken to the streets for five months to vent their anger over what they see as Beijing’s tightening grip on the city.

Most protesters in Hong Kong want greater democracy, among other demands, although a small minority are calling for independence, a red line for Communist Party leaders in Beijing.

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Workers paint to cover words which were written by protesters on the walls of a bank branch in Hong Kong.

Independence is also a highly divisive issue in Catalonia, which, like Hong Kong, has more than 7 million inhabitants, its own language, parliament and flag.

Some demonstrators waved the Catalonian flag at a protest in Hong Kong on Sunday, while activists in Spain’s northeastern region have adopted some of the tactics used by people in the Chinese-ruled city.

Students in Catalonia have boycotted classes, while protesters there have focused on strategic targets to cause maximum disruption, including the international airport serving Barcelona - similar to strategies used by Hong Kong activists.

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Anti-govt demonstrators hold banners and Union Jack flags as they protest in front of the UK consulate in Hong Kong.

Catalonian demonstrators are angry at what they see as attempts to thwart their desire for greater autonomy from the rest of Spain, fears that resonate with many protesters in the former British colony of Hong Kong.

Some Hong Kong protesters are going online ahead of the demonstration to urge people not to attend, saying it is too provocative and risks denting international support for their cause.

Hong Kong authorities formally banned a group promoting independence from China in September last year, the first outlawing of a political organisation since the handover.

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People attend a flash mob singing event outside Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui district in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

Under the terms of the 1997 handover from Britain, Hong Kong was allowed to retain extensive freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China under a “one country, two systems” formula, including an independent judiciary and right to protest.

However, many Hong Kong residents are angry at what they see as a relentless march towards mainland control.

Hong Kong’s legislature formally withdrew on Wednesday planned legislation that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, a bill that triggered the unrest, but the move was unlikely to end the protests because it met just one of the pro-democracy demonstrators’ five demands.