Tens of thousands of people filled the streets of Hong Kong Island on Tuesday afternoon as they marched from Causeway Bay towards Central in defiance of a police ban on the protest.

The flags of a variety of nations were being flown – but China’s was nowhere to be seen among the National Day protest crowd.

The Civil Human Rights Front had cancelled the march it was planning to Chater Garden in Central, after failing to convince an appeal board to overturn the ban.

But on Monday, pro-democracy figures had urged people to march in any case, saying the right to protest is enshrined in the Basic Law and permission from the authorities is not required.

The democrats, including former Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho, did admit, however, that there is a chance that the police could attempt to make arrests for unauthorised assembly.

One woman at the gathering in East Point Road said she felt she had come out onto the streets to “mourn” Hong Kong.

“We want to show that even though this rally is not authorised, we have the right to demonstrate, we have freedom of speech, we have the freedom of assembly … so we want to be here.”

She added that she wanted to demonstrate that she’s not afraid of the Chinese Communist Party. “I recognise myself more as a Hongkonger than Chinese.”

The League of Social Democrats said four of its members had been arrested after they were stopped in a van on their way to the march with a protest banner. The group’s Avery Ng said it wasn’t clear why the four were detained.

At Wan Chai, many more protesters joined the crowd after gathering in Southorn Playground.

When the first of the demonstrators reached the expected finishing point at Chater Garden, they continued marching, in the general direction of Beijing’s liaison office.

Lee Cheuk-yan, from the Confederation of Trade Unions, said between 100,000 and 150,000 people had joined the march.

The appeal board had agreed with the police that the planned march would be very risky, with the safety of participants and the general public likely to be put in danger.

Last updated: 2019-10-01 HKT 15:01