A second pro-Hong Kong rally has been held in Melbourne’s CBD after clashes with Chinese nationalists on Friday night sparked a police warning that violence would not be tolerated.
More than a hundred people gathered outside the State Library on Swanston Street on Saturday for a peaceful rally in solidarity with protesters in Hong Kong. Among them were members of Melbourne’s Uyghur community as well as Tibetan and Vietnamese groups, carrying flags, posters and signs reading “We love Hong Kong! We love Australia” and “Step Down Carrie Lam Puppet. Let the HK people vote.”
A handful of people began shouting at the group but were escorted away from the rally by police, who had an increased presence compared with an event held at the same location where violence broke out.
Hundreds gathered outside the State Library on Swanston Street from about 7pm on Friday for a planned rally in solidarity with protesters in Hong Kong. Violence began out when a group of pro-China protesters arrived. The event was estimated to have attracted 600 people at its peak.
Videos posted to social media show the rival groups pushing and shoving one another before being separated by police.
A Victoria police spokeswoman confirmed two men were interviewed in relation to unlawful assault, before being released pending summons.
“We respect the right of the community to express their views peacefully and lawfully but will not tolerate those who break the law or engage in antisocial or violent behaviour,” she said.
Similar protests were also held in Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney, and follow months of demonstrations in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong has been plunged into its biggest political crisis since the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule in 1997, with a wave of protests against a now suspended extradition bill which would see people sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts.
The protests, which started in April have now transformed into broader demands including the resignation of Hong Kong’s embattled leader Carrie Lam and calls for a “free Hong Kong”.
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