The convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, Jimmy Sham, says an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 people took part in a rally at Tamar park on Saturday evening to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the start of the Occupy movement, which “far exceeded” the front’s expectation.

Police estimated the turnout at 8,440 at its peak.

Sham told reporters that the event had to be cut short to ensure the safety of participants because the police had informed them that they would launch a dispersal operation in the Admiralty area.

The rally had begun at 7:15 pm, with a video recapping the key moments of the current anti-extradition protest, which started more than three months ago.

There was footage of the protest on June 16 when two million people are said to have marched. The video also showed events like the July 21 Yuen Long attacks, and the police’s beating of protesters inside a train at Prince Edward Station on August 31.

The host of the rally said the most important lesson that the people of Hong Kong had learnt from the Occupy campaign five years ago was the need to stay united, adding that the unity of society has helped Hong Kong make history again and again.

Occupy co-founder Benny Tai urged people not to lose hope after months of protest, adding that each democracy movement nurtures another wave of action in the future.

Demosisto leader Joshua Wong told the crowd that five years after Occupy, the people have returned to the streets with an even stronger determination and they cannot back down ever again.

Wong also urged people not to forget those who had been arrested and charged during the ongoing unrest.

Protesters at the gathering chanted slogans of the anti-extradition movement, such as “five demands, not one less”, and “Hong Kong people, add oil”.

They also observed a moment of silence to remember those who have taken their own lives during the campaign, which is now into its fourth month.

The front announced the end of the rally at around 8:20 pm, 45 minutes ahead of schedule. It called on protesters to leave via the harbourfront promenade towards Central to avoid clashes with police officers.
Last updated: 2019-09-29 HKT 00:27