Hong Kong Protesters Boo China's National Anthem, Sing Battle Song Instead at Football WC Qualifier

IANS

Taking the city's months of demonstrations into the sports realm, thousands of Hong Kong spectators booed loudly and turned their backs when the Chinese national anthem was played at the first home game of Hong Kong's World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign against Iran.

An hour before the 8 pm (1200 GMT) kick-off against Asia's top side Iran on Tuesday night, spectators made their uphill journey to the stadium chanting "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong", Al Jazeera reported.

Many of them traded their signature black T-shirts, a protest uniform of sorts, for red jerseys, belting out "Glory be to thee, Hong Kong", a stirring song crowd-composed online that, over the past two weeks, has emerged as a battle hymn and protest anthem.

According to BBC, protesters have also staged flash events in shopping malls, singing Glory to Hong Kong which has become an unofficial anthem of the movement.

They won a major concession last week when the extradition bill which sparked the unrest was scrapped. But this has failed to end the unrest as protesters continue to demand full democracy and an investigation into allegations of police abuses.

The mass protests, now entering their fourth month, were sparked by a now-scrapped extradition bill, which opponents argued would have allowed Beijing to erode Hong Kong's separate justice system after its return from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

The demonstrations have since morphed into a broader pro-democracy movement.

Protesters are widening their demands to include full democracy, an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality, a blanket amnesty for all those charged with offences stemming from their involvement in demonstrations, and a refutation of the police claim that protesters were guilty of rioting - an offence that carries a heavy prison sentence.

The protesters had earlier appealed to the G20 for support during its summit in June and marched to the US consulate to push for intervention last weekend.

Wong, a leader of Hong Kong's 2014 pro-democracy protest movement, was charged last month with inciting people to join a protest in June. His prosecution came after his release from prison in June following a two-month sentence related to the 2014 protests, as per media reports.