Hong Kong protesters defy police ban to demand more democratic freedoms

(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Protesters have been marching in two Hong Kong neighbourhoods in defiance of a ban by police who have clashed repeatedly with government opponents.

Hong Kong is in its tenth week of demonstrations that began in response to a proposed extradition law but have expanded to include other grievances and demands for more democratic freedoms.

Protesters are demanding the resignation of the Chinese territory’s leader, chief executive Carrie Lam, and an investigation into complaints of abuses by police.

Carrie Lam has faced repeated calls to resign over her handling of the protests. Credit: Kin Cheung/AP

Police refused permission for two rallies on Saturday but they went ahead despite that. Reporters saw officers in riot gear on a road where hundreds of people gathered for one of the rallies.

That followed a separate march earlier on Saturday, which received police approval, by parents who called for greater protection for children following incidents in which ordinary people have been caught in clashes between police and protesters.

Demonstrators complain China’s ruling Communist Party and Hong Kong leaders are eroding the liberties promised to the former British colony when it returned to China in 1997.

People in Hong Kong have taken to the streets for a tenth weekend in a row. Credit: AP

Opponents of the proposed extradition law said it would hurt the independence of Hong Kong courts and expose residents to political cases. The government suspended consideration of the proposed law.

Beijing has criticised some protesters as violent radicals spurred on by foreign forces bent on containing China’s development.

It called on flag carrier Cathay Pacific to suspend staff who support the protests.

Protesters say police have used excessive force and ignored calls for help when thugs attacked civilians in a railway station.

Protesters at Hong Kong airport have staged a sit in. Credit: Vincent Thian/AP

Also on Saturday, hundreds of people dressed in black held a sit-in for a second day at Hong Kong’s busy international airport, public broadcaster RTHK reported.

They chanted slogans and left leaflets to explain to arriving travellers the controversy over the proposed extradition law and demands for universal voting rights.

Protesters have so far avoided the violent clashes seen last weekend, where police repeatedly fired tear gas in a bid to deter them from taking to the streets.