Hundreds of people gathered in Central on Wednesday to denounce what they called political persecution and white terror, following the dismissal of a number of aviation sector workers, allegedly over their support for the ongoing anti-government protests.

The rally was organised by the Confederation of Trade Unions (CTU) whose plan to hold the protest at Cathay Pacific’s headquarters was scuppered by a police ban. Organisers estimate that 2,000 people attended the event at the back-up venue, Edinburgh Place.

One of those in attendance, Natalie Wong, said she is worried such sackings will also be made in other industries.

“I think this sort of white terror is now spreading, not only in the airline but extending to other areas like schools or your work place, etc. So it’s very concerning,” she told RTHK’s Richard Pyne.

A man, who gave his name as Gregory and said he is in the entertainment industry, said he doesn’t see how somebody’s support for the protests is reason enough to dismiss them from their jobs.

“They do their job to make sure that the flights that they serve get there on time, get there safely. And all the machinery, all the airplanes that get taken off the ground are fit to fly. I honestly do not see how a personal political stance affects air safety,” he said.

The CTU said eight pilots, four flight attendants, four ground staff and four managerial staff have been dismissed or forced to resign during the city’s ongoing unrest.

Cathay Pacific in particular has been in the headlines after mainland authorities warned the airline that any staff who had attended “illegal protests” could not be allowed on planes flying through Chinese airspace.