Hong Kong pro-democracy rally venue bid rejected

pro-Hong Kong independence activist carries a placard Image copyright EPA
Image caption Hong Kong's pro-democracy marches draw big crowds every year (like here in 2016)

The organisers of Hong Kong's biggest annual pro-democracy march say their application to begin their protest in the usual venue has been rejected.

The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) said the decision was taken by the government department which runs Victoria Park.

They said the department had instead given permission for a pro-Beijing group to use the park that day.

The group linked the rejection to an expected visit by China's president.

Xi Jinping is widely thought to be expecting to visit on 1 July to mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China.

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The CHRF said they had been told the Hong Kong Celebrations Association has been given priority use of the park, and called this "a move to silence dissenting voices made out of political considerations".

The Front told the Hong Kong Free Press they had notified police that they still intended to hold their rally, and hoped to do so at the park in some way.

Hong Kong's authorities have not commented on the claim.

Pro-democracy marches take place every year in Hong Kong, and have become a rallying point for those calling for democratic reforms in the territory.

In 2014, a big pro-government march was held, in response to civil disobedience campaigns by activists angered by what they described as Beijing's influence over elections in the territory.

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