Російський голова анексованого Криму Сергій Аксьонов вирішив відмовитися від суміщення посад голови Криму та керівника уряду. Як повідомляє близьке до окупаційної влади Криму видання «Кримінформ», це випливає з порядку засідання російського парламенту Криму 1 жовтня.

Повідомляється, що Аксьонов вніс на розгляд російського парламенту Криму кандидатуру Юрія Гоцанюка для призначення на посаду голови уряду. Це питання депутати розглянуть на засіданні у вівторок.

Зараз Гоцанюк очолює російський уряд Криму в статусі виконувача обов’язків віцепрем’єра, цей пост він зайняв після переобрання Аксьонова главою Криму 20 вересня.

20 вересня на сесії кримського парламенту Аксьонова переобрали на новий п’ятирічний термін главою Криму.

8 вересня російська влада провели в Криму і Севастополі вибори депутатів кримського парламенту і місцевих рад. У МЗС України назвали «юридично нікчемними» російські вибори в Криму і Севастополі та закликали міжнародне співтовариство дати «принципову оцінку» проведення цих виборів.

Європейський союз не визнає проводення 8 вересня російською владою в Криму і Севастополі вибори депутатів парламентів і місцевих рад.

11 вересня Верховна Рада України визнала нелегітимними російські вибори в Криму і Севастополі.


A U.S. airstrike in Libya has killed seven Islamic State fighters, according to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).

It is the fourth U.S. strike this month against the terror group in the southwestern Libyan town of Murzuq.

One airstrike last week killed 17 IS militants, and another killed 11, according to AFRICOM. A strike on Sept. 19 killed eight IS militants.

The strikes were carried out in coordination with the Libyan Government of National Accord to degrade IS’s “ability to effectively conduct operations against the Libyan people,” said Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, AFRICOM director of operations.

U.S. officials say the deteriorating security situation in Libya has allowed militants affiliated with IS to expand their presence in ungoverned spaces of the desert in the country’s south.

Troops affiliated with the Government of National Accord have been fighting forces led by strongman Khalifa Haftar, commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army. The fighting has left hundreds of people dead in Tripoli and in nearby cities and towns.

In recent months, IS has claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks against Libyan civilians and military personnel.  

But as IS has become more emboldened by the current political chaos in Libya, U.S. officials tell VOA they have also made themselves an easier target.

Some reports say that between 500 and 750 IS fighters are currently active in Libya, but experts think the number is higher than what has been reported as foreign fighters continue to flee there from Syria.


 Lyonel Desmarattes in Washington, Sony Louis in Leogane, Jaudelet Junior Saint-Vil in Fort Liberte and Hernst Eliscar in Les Cayes contributed to this report
 

WASHINGTON / PORT-AU-PRINCE – Hundreds of demonstrators protested across Haiti Monday, responding to calls by the opposition and anti-corruption militants to take to the streets and build roadblocks to force President Jovenel Moise to resign.

In Port-au-Prince, police fired on protesters who were trying to burn down a police station in the Carrefour Aeroport neighborhood, wounding a local radio reporter. Protesters did manage to set fire to a police car.

In the southern city of Les Cayes, protesters set ablaze a police station located in the southern part of the city. The local office of national electric company EDH was looted.

In Fort Liberte, hundreds took to the streets early. Some wore costumes as they marched through the tow,n holding a casket draped in white fabric, adorned with black crosses and the words, “Goodbye Jovenel,” written in black marker on the sides.

The Tet Ansanm pou Rebati Ayiti (Union to Rebuild Haiti) group, which includes various opposition organizations, Sunday called for the protests.     

Opposition leader Andre Michel gives a press conference in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sept. 29, 2019.

“Jovenel Moise is no longer president; the people have fired him, but the people must remain mobilized. The roadblocks must go higher and the mobilization has to go higher until we install a provisional government,” said lawyer Andre Michel, a member of the Democratic and Popular Sector party.

Referring to a protest last Friday which the opposition considered a nationwide success, Michel said, “On Sept 27, 2019, the people fired Jovenel Moise as their president…Jovenel Moise is a president in hiding….he is no longer leading the country.”

‘Where is Jovenel?’
 

FILE – Haitian President Jovenel Moise

Moise has not been seen or heard from since he delivered a national address on September 25, during which he sought to calm a furious nation and extend an olive branch to the opposition.

The latest protests stem from the Haitian leader’s decision more than a year ago to end fuel subsidies, a move that came at the request of the International Monetary Fund. While Moise reversed the decision after an eruption of violence, frustration has mounted over his inability to turn the economy around and end corruption.    

Instead, Moise has infuriated the opposition and protesters and sparked the most destructive and violent protests to date. Asked if Moise is in hiding, presidential advisor Cange Mackenson told local radio station Magik 9 Monday morning that the president has control of the country and is “reflecting like a good coach.”

Late on Sunday, a series of decrees was issued by acting Prime Minister Jean Michel Lapin announcing new Cabinet appointments to head various ministries, including those for finance, public planning, migration, Haitians living abroad and tourism. The move followed shakeups in the interior and justice ministries.  

Le citoyen Joseph JOUTHE est nommé Ministre a.i de l’Economie et des Finances @MEFHaitipic.twitter.com/STa0GaHwQ8

— Communication Haïti (@MCHaiti) September 30, 2019

More calls for resignation

Police stand near a barricade built by protesters in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sept. 30, 2019.

The Conference of Catholic Bishops has added its voice to those expressing concern over Haiti’s political quagmire. The conference issued a statement asking the president to face the consequences of his irresponsibility. “Is there a violence worse than living with constant insecurity? Is there a misery worse than the black misery that removes all hope? No people should resign themselves to accepting misery, poverty and violence as a way of life,” the statement said. “The officials at the highest level of government must take responsibility to guarantee the country and its institutions are able to function properly. They are morally responsible for the security and well-being of the people, first of whom is the president.”

An association of artists and actors also decried the political crisis. A statement issued Sunday cited corruption and impunity as the main culprits.

Protesters turn and run as police began to fire tear gas as they gather in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sept. 30, 2019.

“We artists realize that these two factors are responsible for the terrible situation we find ourselves in, where many young people are leaving in search of a better life overseas,” the statement, signed by some of Haiti’s most popular and successful artists, said.  

Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic reportedly reinforced its border with Haiti, adding more than 1,000 soldiers to boost security in anticipation of the planned protests.

 

 


The Treasury Department is targeting Russians suspected of trying to influence the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.
 
Treasury says, however, there is no indication that they were able to compromise election infrastructure in ways that would have blocked voters, changed vote counts or disrupted vote counting.
 
 Monday’s action targets for sanctions four entities, seven individuals, three aircraft and a yacht that are all associated with the Internet Research Agency and its Russian financier, Yevgeniy Prigozhin.
 
Treasury says the IRA used fictitious personas on social media and disseminated false information to attempt to influence the 2018 U.S. midterm elections and try to undermine faith in U.S. democratic institutions.

 


President Donald Trump has congratulated Gen. Mark Milley on becoming chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff.

Trump is attending a rainy welcome ceremony for Milley at a military base in Arlington, Virginia. Trump says he’s always heard that rain on a big event brings luck and tells Milley, “Mark, I think you’re going to be the luckiest general in history.”
 
The role of the Joint Chiefs chairman is to advise the president, defense secretary and the National Security Council on military issues.
 
Trump also calls Milley his friend and adviser and says he “never had a doubt” about nominating Milley for the position.
 
Milley, formerly the Army chief of staff, succeeds Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford.
 
Trump chose Milley over a candidate favored by former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

 

 


U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, a Republican congressman from western New York, is expected to plead guilty in an insider trading case accusing him of leaking confidential information in an urgent phone call made from a White House picnic, according to court records filed Monday.

A federal judge in Manhattan has scheduled a hearing for Collins to enter a guilty plea to unspecified charges in the case Tuesday afternoon. A similar hearing has been scheduled Thursday for the congressman’s son, Cameron Collins.

Collins’ congressional office declined to comment on Monday. His attorney didn’t immediately respond to a message. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan also declined to comment.

Collins, who was among the first members of Congress to support President Donald Trump’s run for the White House, had been scheduled to go to trial next year on charges of conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to the FBI. Prosecutors accused him of sharing non-public information from a biopharmaceutical company with his son, allowing Cameron Collins and another man to avoid nearly $800,000 in stock losses.

The case, filed in August of 2018, initially caused the 69-year-old Collins to drop a reelection bid, but he restarted his campaign a month later as Republican leaders were deliberating who would replace him on the ballot.

At the time he said the “stakes are too high to allow the radical left to take control of this seat in Congress.”

The charges turned Collins’ expected easy reelection in a strongly Republican district into a close race, but he managed to fend off Democratic challenger Nate McMurray by a thin margin.

A conviction would likely lead to Collins’ resignation from Congress. The most serious charge carries a potential prison term of up to 20 years.

The charges stem from Collins’ business ties with Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd., a biotechnology company headquartered in Sydney, Australia. He was the company’s largest shareholder, with nearly 17% of its shares, and sat on its board.

According to the indictment, Collins was attending the Congressional Picnic at the White House on June 22, 2017, when he received an email from the company’s chief executive saying that a trial of a drug the company developed to treat multiple sclerosis was a clinical failure.

Collins responded to the email saying: “Wow. Makes no sense. How are these results even possible???” the indictment said.

It said he then called his son, Cameron Collins, and, after several missed calls, they spoke for more than six minutes.

The next morning, according to the indictment, Cameron Collins began selling his shares, unloading enough over a two-day period to avoid $570,900 in losses before a public announcement of the drug trial results. After the announcement, the company’s stock price plunged 92%.

Cameron Collins is accused of passing along the information to his fiancée’s father, so he could also dump his stock.


Посол України в Турецькій Республіці Андрій Сибіга засудив намір російської влади провести в Стамбулі «турецько-кримський економічний форум».

«Чергова марна спроба окупанта разом з місцевими маргіналами провести «кримські» заходи в Туреччині під назвою «Економічний форум» у Стамбулі, приховується чергова провокація і порушення українського та міжнародного права», – йдеться в повідомленні Сибіги у Twitter.

Дипломат закликав турецьких бізнесменів «бути пильними» і не брати участі у «форумі». Він подякував Туреччині «за підтримку».

Російська влада не коментувала намір провести «кримський форум» в Стамбулі.

Туреччина не визнала анексію Криму Росією. У серпні цього року міністр закордонних справ Туреччини Мевлют Чавушоглу повідомив, що позиція його країни з питань анексії Криму Росією і утисків кримських татар залишається незмінною.


Експрезидент Грузії й колишній голова Одеської обласної держадміністрації Міхеїл Саакашвілі заявив, що повернеться до Грузії до проведення там парламентських виборів у 2020 році.

«У наступному році в Грузії за графіком повинні відбутися парламентські вибори. І, попри загрозу арешту і не тільки арешту зі сторони проросійського режиму олігарха Іванішвілі, а й зі сторони Лаврова, який два дні тому почав вимагати припинити мою активність у Грузії, я обов’язково повернуся туди до виборів і допоможу народу розібратися з олігархом», – написав Саакашвілі у фейсбуці.

За словами Саакашвілі, зараз він перебуває в Одесі й «активно» займається «місцевою проблематикою».

Партія Міхеїла Саакашвілі «Рух нових сил» брала участь у позачергових парламентських виборах в Україні у липні цього року.

Саакашвілі був відсутній в Україні з лютого 2018-го (коли був видворений з країни)​ до травня 2019 року.

Міхеїл Саакашвілі повернувся в Україну 29 травня цього року – напередодні Володимир Зеленський повернув йому українське громадянство, якого його позбавив попередній президент України Петро Порошенко.

 

У червні 2018 року в Грузії заочно засудили Саакашвілі до шести років позбавлення волі в справі про побиття колишнього опозиційного депутата Валерія Гелашвілі у 2005 році.

Тбіліський міський суд визнав експрезидента Грузії винним за звинуваченням в умисному нанесенні тяжкої шкоди здоров’ю і в зловживанні владою із застосуванням насильства.

 


A regional Chinese diplomat has rebuked the United States for being “ignorant” about his country’s ongoing key economic contributions and cooperation with Afghanistan.

Arrangements are being worked out to enhance the cooperation with Kabul even under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Yao Jing, the Chinese ambassador to neighboring Pakistan told VOA.

He hailed Saturday’s successful Afghan presidential election, saying China hopes they will boost peace-building efforts in a country wrecked by years of conflicts.

“We hope that with the election in Afghanistan, with the peace development moving forward in Afghanistan, Afghans will finally achieve a peaceful period, achieve the stability,” said the Chinese diplomat, who served in Kabul prior to his posting in Islamabad.

Earlier this month, U.S. officials and lawmakers during a congressional hearing in Washington sharply criticized China for its lack of economic assistance to Afghan rebuilding efforts.

“I think it’s fair to say that China has not contributed to the economic development of Afghanistan. We have not seen any substantial assistance from China,” Alice Wells, U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, told lawmakers.

Wells, however, acknowledged that Beijing has worked with Washington on a way forward on peace as have other countries, including Russia and immediate neighbors of Afghanistan.

“She is a little ignorant about what China’s cooperation with Afghanistan is,” ambassador Yao said when asked to comment on the remarks made by Wells.

He recounted that Beijing late last year established a trade corridor with Kabul, which Afghan officials say have enabled local traders to directly export thousands of tons of pine nuts to the Chinese market annually, bringing much-needed dollars. Yao said a cargo train was also started in 2016 from eastern China to Afghanistan’s landlocked northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

China is also working on infrastructure projects, including the road linking Kabul to the eastern city of Jalalabad and the road between the central Afghan city of Bamiyan and Mazar-e-Sharif. Chinese companies, Yao, said are also helping in establishing transmission lines and other infrastructure being developed under the CASA-1000 electricity transmission project linking Central Asia to energy-starved South Asia nations through Afghanistan.

Ambassador Yao noted that China and Afghanistan signed a memorandum of understanding on BRI cooperation, identifying several major projects of connectivity.

“But the only problem is that the security situation pose a little challenge. So, that is why China and Pakistan and all the regional countries, we are working so hard trying to support or facilitate peace in Afghanistan,” he said.  

For her part, Ambassador Wells told U.S. lawmakers that China’s BRI is a “slogan” and “not any reality” in Afghanistan. “They have just tried to lockdown lucrative mining contracts but not following through with investment or real resources,” she noted.

Wells said that Washington continues to warn its partners, including the Afghan government about “falling prey to predatory loans or loans that are designed to benefit only the Chinese State.”

U.S. officials are generally critical of BRI for “known problems with corruption, debt distress, environmental damage, and a lack of transparency.” The projects aims to link China by sea and land through an infrastructure network with southeast and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

But Yao rejected those concerns and cited the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a pilot project of BRI, which has brought around $20 billion in Chinese investment to Pakistan within the past six years. It has helped Islamabad build roads and power plants, helping the country overcome its crippling electricity shortages, improve its transportation network and operationalize the strategic deep-sea Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea.

 


Following Tuesday’s announcement by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of an impeachment inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump, politicians in Washington are trading allegations over Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and the business activities of Hunter Biden, the son of leading Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden.  Mike O’Sullivan reports, the rhetoric is heated as the Democratic-led investigation of the Republican president gets under way


Less than a week after the autumnal equinox ended summer in the United States, the northwestern parts of the country got hammered by an early winter storm.

Parts of Montana received more than 90 centimeters of snow.

Snow blanketed parts of California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Nevada and Utah Sunday.

Calling the the storm “historic”,  the National Weather Service said, “many daily record low maximum temperature records are possible through Monday, especially across the Northern Great Basin, Rockies and Northern California.”

Montana Governor Steve Bullock declared an emergency Sunday, allowing the state to free up resources to help the worst-affected areas.

“Montanans should heed all warnings from state and local officials, travel safely, and be cautious during this time,” Bullock said in a statement.

“Very heavy wet snow and strong winds will lead to downed trees, power outages, and treacherous travel conditions,” the weather service warned.

It also warned Montanans to take extra care of their pets and livestock.

The storm was expected to let up sometime Monday.

 


У Москві похвалили президента України Володимира Зеленського за відповідність між його словами і діями.

Із твердженням про те, що в українській політиці за президентства Володимира Зеленського поки немає суперечностей між заявами і діями, як це було за Петра Порошенка, виступила речниця Міністерства закордонних справ Росії Марія Захарова.

«Поки я не бачу суперечностей, які я, наприклад, раніше спостерігала в українській політиці, між заявами і, можливо, якимись кулуарними переговорами і безпосередніми діями. От раніше це все було на суперечностях, приходили люди, які говорили про мир, а насправді вони робили все, щоб була війна. Тут є бажання змінити цю ситуацію», – сказала вона в ефірі програми «Велика гра» на російському державному телевізійному «Першому» телеканалі. Ця програма через різницю в часі вже була в ефірі на Далекому сході Росії, цитує слова Захарової російське державне агентство «ТАСС» із Південно-Сахалінська. В Москві і в європейській частині Росії трансляція програми запланована на наступні години.

За словами Захарової, як їх наводить агентство, з розмови президента США Дональда Трампа і Зеленського очевидно, що президент України – людина, «яка хоче зробити щось для своєї країни».

Критики Зеленського, в першу чергу в Україні, вважають, що нинішній президент України змінив державну позицію на значно більш схильну до поступок перед вимогами Росії, ніж була за президентства Порошенка. Прихильники Зеленського, а також Москва заперечують таке трактування.

У згаданій розмові Трампа й Зеленського, відповідно до її викладу, що його оприлюднив Білий дім, президент США тиснув на українського керівника, щоб той влаштував в Україні розслідування щодо можливої незаконної діяльності в цій країні ймовірного головного суперника Трампа на виборах 2020 року, колишнього віцепрезидента Джо Байдена і його сина Гантера Байдена; відтак через можливий тиск президента США на іноземного лідера з метою отримати перевагу на виборах у Конгресі проти нього почали процедуру імпічменту. Трамп, а слідом за ним і Зеленський заявили, що то не був тиск.

Крім того, в тій розмові Зеленський, підігруючи Трампові, критично відгукувався про європейських союзників України – керівників Німеччини і Франції, – які надають підтримку Києву в боротьбі проти агресії Росії.


У російській владі окупованого українського Криму заявили, що не отримували звернення з ООН щодо храму Православної церкви України в Сімферополі, тому щодо нього будуть діяти, «виходячи з рішень місцевих судів», підконтрольних Москві.

Так звана заступниця міністра майнових і земельних відносин російської влади Криму Крістіна Салтикова заявила кореспондентові Російської служби Радіо Свобода: «Інформація про рішення Комітету ООН з прав людини з будь-якими рекомендаціями, що стосуються дій органів державної влади Республіки Крим щодо майна, яке перебувало в користуванні управління Кримської єпархії Української православної церкви Київського патріархату (УПЦ КП – одна з церков-попередниць нинішньої ПЦУ – ред.), в мінмайна Криму відсутня». За її словами, якщо які-небудь рекомендації або доручення з цього приводу надійдуть у її відомство, їх розглянуть «у встановленому законом (російським – ред.) порядку».

28 червня підконтрольний Кремлеві арбітражний суд у Криму задовольнив вимогу «мінмайна» про розірвання договору оренди частини нежитлового будинку в Сімферополі, в якому останні 24 роки розташовується собор Святих Рівноапостольних Володимира і Ольги. Від православної громади зажадали повернути нерухоме майно. 29 серпня підконтрольний Москві апеляційний суд залишив це рішення чинним.

Тим часом 6 вересня Комітет ООН із прав людини зажадав від російської влади на півострові припинити процес виселення сімферопольської громади ПЦУ з кафедрального собору Святих Рівноапостольних Володимира і Ольги до закінчення розгляду цього питання в цьому Комітеті. 20 вересня Комітет повторив цю вимогу. Росія як член ООН зобов’язана виконувати такі вимоги.


Моніторингова місія Організації Об’єднаних Націй з прав людини закликала Росію до виконання постанови суду ООН щодо скасування заборони Меджлісу кримськотатарського народу, якій минає рівно три роки.

«Меджліс, представницький орган кримських татар, не може виконувати свої функції й дотепер… Ми закликаємо Російську Федерацію виконати постанову суду ООН і скасувати заборону Меджлісу», – йдеться в повідомленні.

У місії вказують, що Москва нехтує рішення Міжнародного суду ООН, який у 2017 році суд дійшов висновку, що Росія має утриматися від обмежувань представницьких органів кримських татар, зокрема, Меджлісу.

29 вересня 2016 року Верховний суд Росії залишив у силі рішення про заборону Меджлісу, яке раніше ухвалив підконтрольний Кремлю Верховний суд анексованого Криму.


China’s president has presented national medals and honorary titles to 42 people.

Xi Jinping bestowed the awards upon the honorees in a lavish ceremony Sunday in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

Among the recipients was Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine Tu Youyou.

Former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin was awarded a friendship medal.

The ceremony comes ahead of the celebrations Tuesday commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
 


Riot police have thrown tear gas and cordoned off part of a street at Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay shopping belt after a large crowd started to amass for an anti-China rally ahead of Tuesday’s National Day celebrations.

Protesters chanted slogans and heckled police as they were pushed back behind a police line. The atmosphere is tense as police warned the crowd they were taking part in an illegal assembly. Officers fired tear gas canisters after some protesters threw bottles and other objects in their direction.

Police earlier searched some protesters and several people were detained. The crowd has swelled to more than 1,000 people, with many spilling into adjacent streets. 

Riot police officers detain anti-government protesters in Wan Chai district, Hong Kong, Sept. 29, 2019.

Supporters of Beijing rally

Earlier, hundreds of pro-Beijing supporters in Hong Kong on Sunday sang the Chinese national anthem and waved red flags ahead of China’s National Day to counter pro-democracy protests that have challenged Beijing’s rule.

The show of support for Beijing came after another day of violence in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory that sparked fears of more ugly scenes that could embarrass Chinese President Xi Jinping as his ruling Communist Party marks its 70th year in power Tuesday. Pro-democracy advocates have called for a major rally to coincide with the celebrations in Beijing.

Police on Saturday fired tear gas and water cannons after protesters threw bricks and firebombs at government buildings following a massive rally in downtown Hong Kong. The clashes were part of a familiar cycle since protests began in June over a now-shelved extradition bill and have since snowballed into an anti-China movement with demands for democratic reforms. 

A China supporter waves Chinese national flag at the Peak in Hong Kong, Sept. 29, 2019. Hundreds of pro-Beijing supporters sang Chinese national anthem and waved red flags ahead of China’s National Day, in a counter to monthslong protests.

Protesters are planning to march Tuesday despite a police ban. Many said they will wear mourning black in a direct challenge to the authority of the Communist Party, with posters calling for Oct. 1 to be marked as “A Day of Grief.” 

Later Sunday, protesters also plan to gather for an “anti-totalitarianism” rally against what they denounced as “Chinese tyranny.” Similar events are being organized in more than 60 cities worldwide including in the U.S., U.K., Australia and Taiwan.

Hong Kong’s government has scaled down National Day celebrations in the city, canceling an annual firework display and moving a reception indoors.

Despite security concerns, the government said Sunday that Chief Executive Carrie Lam will lead a delegation of more than 240 people to Beijing Monday to participate in the festivities. She will be represented by Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung in her absence and return to the city Tuesday evening.

Lam held her first community dialogue with the public Thursday in a bid to diffuse tensions but failed to persuade protesters, who vowed to press on until their demands including direct elections for the city’s leader and police accountability are met.

A police officer tries to keep the pro-China crowd in order at the Peak in Hong Kong, Sept. 29, 2019.

Several hundred people, many wearing red and carrying Chinese flags and posters, gathered at a waterfront cultural center in the city Sunday and chanted “I am a citizen of China.” They sang the national anthem and happy birthday to China. They were later bused to the Victoria Peak hilltop for the same repertoire. 

Organizer Innes Tang said the crowd, all Hong Kong citizens, responded to his invitation on social media to “promote positivity and patriotism.” He said they wanted to rally behind Chinese sovereignty and urged protesters to replace violence with dialogue.

“We want to take this time for the people to express our love for our country China. We want to show the international community that there is another voice to Hong Kong” apart from the protests, he said.

Mobs of pro-Beijing supporters have appeared in malls and on the streets in recent weeks to counter pro-democracy protesters, leading to brawls between the rival camps. 

Losing freedoms

Many people view the extradition bill, that would have sent criminal suspects to mainland China for trial, as a glaring example of the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy under the “one country, two systems” policy when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

China has denied chipping away at Hong Kong’s freedom and accused the U.S. and other foreign powers of fomenting the unrest to weaken its dominance.