Hundreds gather at pro-democracy rally in Vancouver to support Hong Kong protesters
Heightened police presence in Vancouver's Library Square as hundreds support protests in China
Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Vancouver Saturday to show their support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
The rally, at the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library, was one of many held around the world to also mark the fifth anniversary of a decision by China to curtail democratic reforms and rule out universal suffrage in Hong Kong, a former British colony that was returned to China in 1997.
The Vancouver protesters, many of them wearing black clothes and face masks, are also there to voice their opposition to police violence at the rallies in Hong Kong, which have lasted months.
There is a strong police presence at Vancouver's Library Square. But unlike some past Vancouver rallies, there is currently no counter-protest planned.
Clashes between protesters and police
Hong Kong is experiencing its worst political crisis in decades.
The protests have gone on for three months, sometimes turning violent, and have targeted the airport, the legislature and the Liaison Office, the symbol of Chinese rule.
There have been frequent clashes between protesters and police, who have often fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds, amid accusations of excessive force.
The movement started with anger over planned legislation allowing extraditions to mainland China. It soon broadened into calls for democracy amid fears China is squeezing Hong Kong's freedoms.
China denies the charge of meddling in Hong Kong, which it says is an internal affair. It has denounced the protests and warned of the damage to the economy.
Hong Kong returned to China under a "one country, two systems" formula that allows it to keep freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, like the freedom to protest and an independent legal system.
With files from Jon Hernandez