Two sides clashed in Calgary on Saturday afternoon, as Hong Kong-Calgarians and pro-China supporters gathered in Crescent Heights with police officers also on hand to ensure a peaceful protest.
One side stood in solidarity with ongoing protests against the Chinese government in Hong Kong.
The rally, organized by the Calgary chapter of Friends of Hong Kong coincided with rallies in other Canadian cities including Vancouver, Winnipeg and Toronto.
“What we’re hoping for the people to notice is to be able to spread awareness there are different sides to the equation,” said Ken Tang, with Friends of Hong Kong Calgary. “What we’re trying to do is support the Hong Kong protesters and fight for democracy.”
Protests have been going on in the region for the past ten weeks and started as a fight against chief executive Carrie Lam’s controversial extradition bill.
The movements are demanding Lam’s resignation, democratic elections and an independent investigation into the use of force by police.
Friends of Hong Kong says it is joining Hong Kong’s demand for: the complete withdrawal of the proposal extradition bill, the unconditional release of arrested protesters and charges against them dropped, an independent inquiry into police behaviour and for the Carrie Lam government to step down.
But pro-China supporters say they want their voices heard too.
“It's really important I come here and raise my voice,” said Sara Zhang, a Chinese-Canadian. “I feel like a lot of our voices are being drowned out by voices that aren’t true or they’re one-sided.”
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini issued a joint statement Saturday:
Canada and the European Union recall their close relations with Hong Kong under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle and their strong stake in its continued stability and prosperity.
For the last two months, large numbers of citizens have been exercising their fundamental right of assembly. However, there has recently been a rising number of unacceptable violent incidents, with risks of further violence and instability.
It is crucial that restraint be exercised, violence rejected and urgent steps taken to de-escalate the situation.
Engagement in a process of broad-based and inclusive dialogue, involving all key stakeholders, is essential.
Fundamental freedoms, including the right of peaceful assembly, and Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, are enshrined in the Basic Law and in international agreements and must continue to be upheld.