Hong Kong braces for weekend protests

Pro-democracy activists continue to call for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam's resignation.
Pro-democracy activists continue to call for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam's resignation.

Hong Kong is preparing for a weekend of demonstrations, including a human chain at major subway lines and a democracy march, the latest moves in more than four months of anti-government protests.

It has been two weeks since Carrie Lam, leader of the Chinese-ruled city, invoked emergency laws for the first time in half a century to ban face masks, hoping to quell protests.

Instead, the city has been shaken by some of the most intense unrest to date.

Although the past few days have been relatively calm, with protesters staying off the streets, prominent human rights activist Jimmy Sham was brutally attacked on Wednesday, a move pro-democracy lawmakers said was meant to intimidate protesters and incite violence.

Hundreds of people are expected to join hands outside metro stations in the city on Friday night.

The Civil Human Rights Front, which Sham leads, organised million-strong marches in June and has called for a march on Sunday in Kowloon.

Police said on Friday the event would not be permitted but protesters have ignored such objections in the past.

Previous large marches have seen families and children rally alongside pro-democracy activists over concerns Beijing is tightening its grip on the city in violation of the "one country, two systems" formula, which permits the city freedoms not available on the mainland such as an independent judiciary.

Beijing has rejected claims it's undermining rights in Hong Kong and accused foreign countries of fomenting trouble.

During her policy address this week, Lam did not address any of the protesters' demands.

Instead, she announced measures to ease Hong Kong's acute housing shortage.

Protesters largely brushed off her address, saying they would not give up until all their demands were met.

In September, Lam withdrew the controversial extradition bill that kicked off the protests amid concerns it would expose Hong Kongers to the Chinese justice system.

The bill's withdrawal was one of the protesters' key requests but they say four others - an independent inquiry into police behaviour, a waiver for all people charged in the protests, removing the characterisation of the protests as "riots" and universal suffrage - must be addressed.

Many protesters have also called for Lam's resignation.

Australian Associated Press