Police brace for new national education protests in Hong Kong
Massive police numbers were deployed outside Hong Kong Govt HQ for possible clashes between 6,000 protesters against the patriotic Chinese 'National Education' program and 2,000 supporters. Only minor scuffles were reported.
As night fell on Wednesday, 6,000 people dressed in black flooded the "Citizens' Plaza", the name given by activists to the open space outside Hong Kong government headquarters.
This appeared to be a flash-back to the days of sit-ins and hunger strike in summer when tens of thousands came here to support the Civil Alliance Against National Education.
The massive turnout for over a week had forced the government to backdown and put the National Education cirriculum on hold.
The Alliance was given only half of the space and the protesters spilled over into the streets.
The other half was given to the Federation of China and Hong Kong Youth Culture, which is hosting a rally in support of the cirriculum at the same time. Both groups were unhappy with the police's arrangement to split the space, separated by metal fences.
Hundreds of people riding multiple coaches arrived at the government headquarters to join the supporters' event and their names were checked-off against a list.
One of the participants, Ms Fang, acknowledged that they are not from Hong Kong, herself living in Yangjiang City, Guangdong Province. She said her friend had arranged for her to come to Hong Kong to attend a community "family reunion".
She admited that she "knows nothing about the National Education cirriculum and its content" and her visit was arranged by the Compatriot Association of Sanwei, a town in Guangdong.
President Qiu Xuan-kong of the Federation of Youth Culture denied that the organization were bringing outside help. When asked about Ms Fong's case, he refused to respond.
Minor scuffles occurred between a handful of people on both side with verbal exchanges and pushing. The police then marched into a formation to separate the two sides which also form human chains to prevent further escalation.
The supporters' party ended at around 9:30 pm while the protesters' rally ended peacefully a little after 10 pm. Police estimated 610 supporters and 2,800 protesters were there by 9 pm.
Yao Guan-dong, one of the parents participated in the hunger strike said, "I disagree with the party on the other side but I will defend to my death their freedom of speech. Having two different views at the same plaza is one of the core values of Hong Kong!" to a standing ovation.
"The anti-brainwashing campaign had brought a new hope for Hong Kong," Yao concluded.