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Hong Kong tensions continue in Metro Vancouver
Published Sunday, October 6, 2019 1:00PM PDT Last Updated Sunday, October 6, 2019 6:59PM PDT
Tensions in Metro Vancouver over the situation in Hong Kong continued Saturday, with Mounties keeping pro- and anti-Hong Kong demonstrators separated at a SkyTrain station in Richmond.
Witnesses say the RCMP kept the pro-China and pro-Hong Kong groups physically separated as they faced off at the Aberdeen Canada Line station, where supporters of Hong Kong had rebuilt a so-called "Lennon Wall" featuring messages of solidarity with pro-democracy protesters.
Mabel Tung, chair of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement, said the rally had two purposes.
The first was to show support for the first Lennon Wall at the station, which was put up by high school students last week.
"People destroyed the Lennon Wall to violate their freedom of speech and freedom of expression," Tung said. "That's why we are here, to rebuild the Lennon Wall, to make sure the freedom of expression can continue because this is Canada. Everybody is protected by the Charter of Rights. We have freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and freedom of expression."
The rally's other purpose, Tung said, was to support and show solidarity with ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Many participants on the Hong Kong side of Saturday's demonstration wore masks -- a reference to the recently imposed ban on face-coverings at rallies in Hong Kong.
Rallies in the semi-autonomous Chinese city have been happening for months as residents voice their opposition to a proposed change to extradition laws that would allow Hong Kong residents to be sent to the Chinese mainland for trial.
The demonstrations have extended around the world as well. Rallies across Canada have seen supporters of Hong Kong met by supporters of the Chinese government in Beijing, with shouting-matches often erupting between the two sides.
On Saturday, Hong Kong supporters in Richmond sang the Canadian national anthem, while pro-Beijing counter-protesters sang the Chinese anthem.
Tensions in Metro Vancouver were expected to continue Sunday, with the pro-Hong-Kong group VHKPoActs calling for a flash mob at Waterfront SkyTrain Station at 2 p.m. Attendees were asked to dress in black and wear face masks in solidarity.
CTV's Melanie Nagy attended the flash mob and reported that roughly 80 people had shown up.