Organizers said fewer protesters turned out for this march
Group behind protest says civil disobedience may be used in the coming days
Hong Kong's government has asked for feedback on election process
They carried bright yellow umbrellas, chanting “I want true democracy,” as they festively made their way through Hong Kong’s streets.
For the first time in more than a month, demonstrators peacefully took to the roads, many said, to make their voices heard and let their government and the world know that their fight for universal suffrage continues.
Joshua Wong, 18, one of the student leaders of the movement, was one familiar face in the crowd.
“This rally is to let people know the umbrella movement is not over,” Wong said, referencing the iconic symbol chosen by the demonstrators when they occupied the streets of Hong Kong for two-and-a-half months late last year.
Fewer protesters in latest march
The turnout, though, fell far short of expectations, even for organizers.
While the group behind the march – the Civil Human Rights Front – had forecast 50,000 people to join, they estimated only 13,000 took part in the procession. A spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Police Force put that number at just 8,800.
While admitting some disappointment, Daisy Chan with the Civil Human Rights Front was still upbeat, saying the march had achieved its main goal: to remind the Hong Kong government that the reform proposal currently on the table for the 2017 election doesn’t go far enough.
“In the coming days, I think people will try to give more political pressure, not only through demonstration, but civil disobedience, in order to fight for true democracy,” Chan said.
Dennis Yip, a 19-year-old student who joined the march, called it “half successful” because new groups had joined. Some of them planned to meet after the rally to brainstorm the next steps, said Joshua Wong and other students.
But it’s unclear where this movement, which drew over 100,000 protesters at its peak in 2014, goes from here, without a clear leader or strategy to achieve its aims.
As Hong Kong works through the process of how its top leader will be elected in 2017, the government has asked for feedback during a two-month period of public consultations.
But Hong Kong’s leaders, including Chief Executive CY Leung, have made it clear that there are limits: reform must be within the framework outlined by Beijing.
That framework has Hong Kong’s next leader being directly elected for the first time, but notes that the candidates for the ballot will be screened by a nominating committee.
The government responded to Sunday’s protest march with a statement on its website: “The (government) calls on all sectors of the community to adopt an accommodating, rational and pragmatic approach, as well as an inclusive attitude to express views, to forge consensus so that 5 million eligible voters can elect the Chief Executive by universal suffrage through ‘one person, one vote’ in 2017.”
One bright yellow sign held high by marchers along the route had a different interpretation: “Democracy Bottom Line. Do Not Cross,” it read.
Since its handover from the United Kingdom in 1997, Hong Kong has been governed as a Special Administrative Region of China under the concept of “one country, two systems.”
CNN’s Felicia Wong and journalist Eudora Wong contributed to this report.