Protesters return to central Hong Kong's streets

Thousands of demonstrators march through the city's main financial district, but turnout is lower than expected.

    Protesters chanted 'we want democracy and the right to choose our own leader' [Divya Gopalan/Al Jazeera]
    Protesters chanted 'we want democracy and the right to choose our own leader' [Divya Gopalan/Al Jazeera]

    Thousands of protesters carrying yellow umbrellas have marched through Hong Kong's main financial district - the scene of the long-running "Occupy Central" sit-in last year.

    As demonstrators reached their final destination in one of the richest parts of Hong Kong on Sunday, founder of the Occupy movement Benny Tai spoke to the crowd, quoting the John Lennon lyrics "you may think that I'm a dreamer, but I am not the only one".

    Student leaders of the movement said there were no plans to mirror the months-long protests of 2014 and that the sit-in would not extend beyond midnight.

    Police were out in force as the crowds slowly made their way along the 4km route from Victoria Park to Central chanting "we want democracy and the right to choose our own leader".

    Approximately 10,000 people had turned out by the end of the protest, although no official figures had been announced.

    The turnout was just a fraction of the 50,000 expected demonstrators, but the range in ages was greater than the original "occupy" protest, an Al Jazeera reporter at the scene said.

    The march marks the first major gathering since protest sites and a tent city blocking Hong Kong island's main highway were cleared in December. Protesters had been calling for more say in how the city's leaders were chosen and for more free elections. 

    At the peak of the demonstrations, 100,000 people took to the streets amid violent clashes with the police which drew the world's attention.

    Daisy Chan Sin-ying, the organiser of Sunday's March, told Al Jazeera that the gathering is necessary because the government has not shown any willingness to discuss possibilities of universal suffrage.

    So far there has been no word nor reaction from Beijing to the protest movement, she said.

    Au, a 21-year-old college student, was one of the protesters who slept on Hong Kong's highways for duration of the occupy movement.

    He told Al Jazeera that many of the young people that took part in the protests last year did not turn up on Sunday, adding they are still recovering and making plans for a bigger revival of the movement.

    Student leaders and the founders of the occupy movement are in attendance, saying they are optimistic that talks with the government on political reform will begin in the near future.

    You can follow Divya Gopalan on Twitter:  @DivyaGnews


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