Hong Kong protesters keep up pressure

The organizers of the large-scale demonstrations which kicked off Hong Kong’s months-long protest movement earlier this year returned to the streets again Sunday, in a bid to maintain pressure on the city’s government following the success of pro-democracy groups at recent elections.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters all ages began assembling at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay at 3 p.m. (2 a.m. ET) under bright blue skies. Many in the crowd could be seen carrying large banners, bearing slogans such as “Free Hong Kong.”

By late afternoon, parts of the city had come to a complete standstill, as crowds attempted to move through the main island to Chater Road close to the main financial hub.

More than 800,000 people participated in the march, according to organizers the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), in what appeared to be a resounding show of support for the movement after six months of occasionally violent unrest. The police put the figure at 183,000.

The mostly peaceful event marked the first time since mid-August that a march organized by the CHRF had been granted police approval. The group was responsible for two back-to-back weekend marches in early June, which it estimates drew a combined total of more than 3 million people.

Protests were initially sparked by a now-shelved extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent across the border to face trial in mainland China, but have since expanded to include calls for greater democracy and government accountability.

Many of those in attendance Sunday voiced frustration with the government and its perceived unwillingness to make concessions. “We want our demands to be heard, we want universal suffrage,” said one 23-year-old protester, who did not want to be identified. “We want freedom for Hong Kong and for Hong Kong to be managed in a sustainable way,” she added.

The organizers had pegged the rally to international Human Rights Day, which falls on December 10 and marks the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “Hong Kong’s human rights violations and humanitarian crisis are reaching the tipping point now,” CHRF said in a