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Activists form 24-mile human chain across Hong Kong

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Activists form 24-mile human chain across Hong Kong
Protesters hold hands in Hong Kong Friday for a protest inspired by a similar staging 30 years ago. Photo by Roman Pilpey/EPA-EFE 

Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Demonstrators in Hong Kong formed a human chain across the island territory Friday to oppose governmental "tyranny," a controversial extradition bill and police brutality.

Organizers said the "Hong Kong Way" protest was aimed at showing solidarity against the issues, which have been met with repeated demonstrations over the last several weeks -- some violent, and some non-violent.

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Friday, protesters blocked the Island, Kwun Tong and Tsuen Wan lines and the Star Ferry pier and passed out lyrics for a protest song. The event was not approved by police, who have said previously they disapprove of activity that blocks transportation or disrupts social order.

Hong Kong rail operator MTR warned that the protests could close some stations.

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"Under safe circumstances, the corporation will continue to dispatch trains to pick up passengers who are stranded in stations as far as practicable," MTR said in a statement. "However, the police may need to enter the stations to take suitable law enforcement when necessary."

Chinese state media criticized the rail company for being too lenient and giving "nice treatment" to protesters.

Organizers said the human chain was inspired by a similar demonstration in 1989, when 2 million people linked across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania amid the crumbling Soviet Union. They used Internet forums and telegrams to rally activists along a 24-mile chain.

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"Hong Kongers, let's hold each other hands and defend this city with our bodies and our will," one event poster stated. "Let's show the world our determination to resist tyranny."

Protests opposing the extradition bill have been going since June. Some have resulted in skirmishes with police and property damage, leading activists to add police brutality to their list of concerns. Hong Kong lawmakers have tabled the extradition bill, but opponents want it entirely terminated.

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