Close to 200 people attended a rally in downtown Calgary on Sunday in support of protestors in Hong Kong.
For many of the people at the protest who grew up in Hong Kong, the changes they’ve seen recently are heartbreaking.
Tango Beh left Hong Kong just before the U.K. handed control of the autonomous territory to China in 1997 and was supposed to guarantee that Hong Kong would continue to enjoy political rights not granted in mainland China.
“We are so angry. It’s unacceptable. You can see the government and the police — they don’t do the right thing. No justice and no freedom so it’s totally different. I am so mad and angry,” Beh said at the James Short Park rally.
The Calgary protestors were demonstrating their solidarity with those in Hong Kong who, this weekend, took to the streets for a ninth week of political unrest. The protests started over an extradition bill to send suspects to China but they’ve turned into a bigger political movement looking for more accountability from the Hong Kong government.
“Right now, in Hong Kong, it’s pretty chaotic,” said Ken Tang with Friends of Hong Kong Calgary.
“The government and the police have been used as a political tool to systematically destroy safety and also what a lot of the people in Hong Kong are concerned about: the rule of law.”
The Calgary demonstrators want the release of all illegally detained Hong Kong protesters and Canadian citizens, hoping for Canadian legislation that would attach human rights conditions on treaties between Hong Kong and Canada.
Hong Kong police have been criticized for how they have handled the protests. Calgary ex-pats at the rally hope people in mainland China are learning from what people in Hong Kong are fighting for.
“What we hope to achieve is to broaden the minds of those in mainland China and be able to teach them the importance of freedom and democracy so they can also be able to have a vibrant democracy,” Tang said.
So far, there has been no intervention from Beijing. It is the possibility of the army being deployed that has many at the Calgary rally concerned.
“I believe the Beijing government might still have a hands-off approach at the present moment and not try to do anything silly but, then again, we never know what they’re going to do. And this is the worry of everyone,” Tang said.