06/26/2009, 00.00
HONG KONG - CHINA
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More than 100,000 people expected for 1 July march in Hong Kong

Protesters want universal suffrage and direct election of chief executive. Thousands of workers will also protest because of government inaction in defending their rights at a time of economic crisis.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – People in Hong Kong will take to the streets on 1 July to mark the retrocession of the former British Crown Colony to China in order send a “clear message” to the government and press it to introduce full electoral democracy as well as protect the rights of those hardest hit by the current economic crisis.

Trade union leader and Legislative Council Member Lee Cheuk-yan expects the turnout to be like that of 1 July 2003, when more than 500,000 people came out to protest against a controversial national security bill, forcing then Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa to postpone the draft bill.

Mr Lee also expects thousands of people negatively affected by the current economic crisis to come out against the government’s economic policies.

The authorities “saved the market—biased towards big businesses,” he said, but they “left people to fend for themselves in the economic downturn”.

This year rally organisers expect “only” 100,000 to turn up in Victoria Park at the end of the march.

They call on would-be participants to wear white to symbolise the demand for democracy.

But this year, in addition to demands for greater political democracy protesters also have economic demands and want the government to overcome the current crisis.

Several trade unions have in fact indicated their intention to formally participate in the event.

Leung Chau-ting, chairman of the Federation of Civil Service Unions, said thousands of members from member groups would march.

Three unions representing the Leisure and Cultural Services Department have already said they will mobilise members to join the march.

The proposed exclusion of foreign domestic helpers from a proposed minimum wage is also expected to lead to more than 2,000 migrant workers to join local marchers.

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