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  1. ITV Report

Reported 1.7 million pro-democracy protesters flood Hong Kong in peaceful protest

A reported 1.7 million pro-democracy protesters braved heavy rain in Hong Kong to demonstrate for the eleventh weekend in a row.

If the organisers' estimate is correct, Sunday's rally would be the largest unlawful gathering in Hong Kong's history.

The former British territory, which was handed back to China in 1997 but enjoys more freedoms than the mainland, only has a population of 7.5 million, according to Beijing.

While recent rallies have been marked by violent clashes with police, Sunday’s assembly remained peaceful and was not marred by the tear gas and rubber bullets which previous demonstrations have seen.

Law enforcement officers were keeping a low profile on Sunday, with no riot police seen from the procession’s main routes.

“We hope that there will not be any chaotic situations today,” said organiser Bonnie Leung.

“We hope we can show the world that Hong Kong people can be totally peaceful.”

The Civil Human Rights Front has organised three massive marches in Hong Kong since June.

While those marches were peaceful, the movement has been increasingly marked by clashes between protesters and police.

Monday and Tuesday saw protesters fill Hong Kong International Airport, leading to authorities cancelling hundreds of flights and obtaining an injunction against the demonstrators.

A replica of the Goddess of Democracy is displayed, wearing hard hat, gas mask and handcuffs, during a protest rally in Hong Kong Credit: Vincent Thian/AP)

Demonstrations began in June after the Hong Kong government attempted to introduce an extradition bill which would mean criminal suspects could face trial in mainland China.

Since then, Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that the bill is "dead" and has been suspended, but protesters want it to be withdrawn completely.

The demonstrations have since morphed to include Ms Lam's resignation, democratic elections, the release of those arrested in earlier protests and an investigation into police use of force against protesters.

Tens of thousands braved the rain on Saturday to take part in a rally. Credit: AP

In Beijing, a spokesperson for China’s ceremonial legislature condemned statements from world politicians supportive of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

You Wenze called the comments “a gross violation of the spirit of the rule of law, a blatant double standard and a gross interference in China’s internal affairs”.

He said that Hong Kong’s 7.5 million people and the Chinese population as a whole rejected the actions of a “very small group of violent protesters” as well as “any interference of foreign forces”.

A protester holds up a card which reads Credit: Vincent Thian/AP

On Saturday, school teachers were amongst those who marched to the official residence of the city leader.

An overflow crowd rallied at a public square in the financial district before setting off for Government House, carrying signs that read “Protect the next generation” and umbrellas to ward off intermittent downpours.

Teachers say they want to show their support for the protesters, many of whom are students.

Members of China’s paramilitary People’s Armed Police force have been training for days across the border in Shenzhen, including on Sunday morning, fuelling speculation that they could be sent in to suppress the protests.

Officers could be seen drilling inside a sports stadium on Saturday, and dozens of army-green trucks and other vehicles are parked in and outside the facility.

Chinese paramilitary policemen go through drills at the Shenzhen Bay, adding to rumours they could be sent to the protests. Credit: AP

The Hong Kong police, however, have said they are capable of handling the protests.

“I can tell you we’re confident the police have the capability to maintain law and order,” Yeung Man-pun, commander of the Kowloon City district, said when asked about the possibility of a deployment of mainland security forces.