HONG KONG (NBC) – Tens of thousands of mostly young pro-democracy activists rallied in Hong Kong Monday in the first legal protest since the introduction of colonial-era emergency laws and pleaded for help from the United States.
They chanted “fight for freedom, fight for Hong Kong” as they gathered peacefully near central government offices in the admiralty district of the Chinese-ruled city only hours after police said violent protests had escalated to a “life-threatening level.”
A small bomb exploded and a policeman was stabbed on Sunday night, the latest violence in four months of unrest in which police have responded to gasoline bombs and rocks with tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannon and sometimes live rounds.
Hong Kong protester Arthor Chan said, “We’re here today to support the democracy and Human Rights Act. We wish that the people of the United States and the senators of the U.S. Congress, they can support and support us and pass the bill because we really need it. We’re in a… Hong Kong is currently in a chaotic situation. We want to show the world that the protesters are actually peaceful and we fight for freedom and democracy. Please support Hong Kong.”
Emergency laws introduced on October 5 banning face masks at rallies and carrying a maximum penalty of one year in jail sparked some of the worst violence since the unrest started.
On Monday night, many protesters wore face masks in defiance of the ban.
Speakers urged the United States to pass a Hong Kong Human Rights Act to ensure democracy for the former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
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