Hong Kong prepares for the New Year democracy rally

HONG KONG: Hong Kong was preparing for a mass demonstration in favor of democracy on Wednesday after seeing the New Year with a night of peaceful protests that turned into tear gas clashes between unconditional protesters and the police.

The city has been hit by more than six months of riots with millions of people marching, as well as clashes in which police have shot and rubber bullets, while protesters have responded with gasoline bombs.

Thousands gathered before midnight at the financial center, even along Victoria Harbor and at the Lan Kwai Fong nightlife point.

Protesters at the port said: Ten! Nine! Free Hong Kong, revolution now! while lighting their phones.

Small crowds in the district set fire to barricades, before riot police unleashed the first tear gas discharges in 2020.

Police also used water cannons to disperse protesters in the same area, and nearby, Prince Edward officers arrested several protesters who held a candlelight vigil.

Earlier in the night, thousands of people joined weapons in human chains that stretched for miles along busy shopping streets and local neighborhoods.

They sang slogans, sang Gloria to Hong Kong, a protest anthem, and showed signs asking people to fight for democracy in 2020

Thanks to 2019, he ripped off the ugly masks of the police and the government and allowed people to see the truth, said protester Kris, a doctor who joined the protest.

The movement is like a bottleneck now. Hopefully, a great participation in tomorrow's march can bring back people's passion, he added.

In late November, the city's pro- democracy camp scored a landslide victory in a municipal-level vote seen as a referendum on the Beijing-backed government's handling of political unrest.

The protest movement has become quieter since then, but sporadic clashes have persisted.

But protesters have promised to continue their efforts to promote greater democratic freedoms and police responsibility.

The Civil Human Rights Front, the chief organiser of marches, is hoping for a huge turnout at Wednesday's rally to urge the government to respond to the demands of the pro- democracy movement -- which include an independent inquiry into the police, amnesty for arrestees and fully free elections.

Police have arrested almost 6,500 people since June, almost a third of them under 20.

Young people have sacrificed a lot for justice ... 2019 is a wake-up call, a 63-year-old retiree told AFP who gave his last name as Shiu.

People will be more determined in the new year. People know that the future of Hong Kong depends on whether we can meet the five demands. The demonstrations were triggered by a bill now abandoned to allow extraditions to the authoritarian continent, but since then they have become a popular revolt against the control of Beijing, the biggest crisis since the return of the former British colony to Chinese rule in 1997 .