Hundreds of protesters in Hong Kong showed their support for Catalonian separatists on Thursday, waving Catalan flags and banners urging “a fight for freedom together.”
Thursday’s rally was held in a downtown garden according to Reuters, one of the few to have obtained a permit from authorities in recent weeks. While organizers said that 3,000 people showed up, the police put the figure at 550.
After Hong Kong was handed over by Britain to Chinese rule, they were allowed to retain several freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland under a “one country, two systems” formula – which includes the right to protest as well as a non-communist judicial system.
“The context (of Catalonia and Hong Kong) is different,” said Barcelona tourist Richard Bosom, telling Reuters “Both are different stories, but in general terms… it is about an oppressive and tyrannical state against a group of people that are trying to do something different and they are not listened to..“
In Hong Kong’s demonstrations, millions have taken to the streets in sometimes violent clashes over what they see as China’s tightening grip. Most protesters in the former British colony want greater democracy, among other demands, although a small minority is calling for independence.
In that sense, they share some common ground with separatist demonstrators in Spain’s wealthy northeast region of Catalonia, which was rocked by protests after nine separatist leaders were sentenced this month to long prison terms for a failed independence bid in 2017. –Reuters
The majority of political parties in Spain have rejected an independence referendum for Catalonia, however separatist parties are not banned from the region which enjoys autonomy similar to that of Hong Kong’s relationship with China.
Meanwhile in Barcelona, a small demonstration was held on Thursday outside the Chinese Consulate-General according to La Vanguardia.
Over seven million people live in Catalonia, which sports its own language and a separate flag. Protests erupted after the separatist leaders were sentenced on October 14 over the 2017 bid for independence.