As world leaders congratulated China on its Oct. 1 National Day, protesters gathered in cities around the world to protest against the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s ongoing persecution of ethnic minorities and dissidents.
As the leaders of North Korea and Vietnam sent effusive letters of congratulation to Beijing to mark the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, protesters in London burned the Chinese flag, and threw maggots and dung on it outside the Chinese embassy, in protest at Beijing’s human rights record.
Hong Kongers, Tibetans and Uyghurs organized around 15 protests in U.K. cities to mark the 73rd National Day and “say no to the CCP,” as Russian president Vladimir Putin, Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel and Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni added their congratulations, according to state news agency Xinhua.
Chanting “China lied! People died! Shame on the CCP!”, the demonstrators marched from Piccadilly Circus to the Chinese embassy, carrying placards opposing totalitarian rule by the CCP.
The flames were put out after police arrived at the scene, after which protesters shone laser pointers at the embassy windows. No reaction was observed from the embassy, although some curtains were closed.
A protester surnamed Wong, who emigrated to the U.K. two months ago, said she had taken part in the protest with three generations of her family president.
“What this day teaches us is that we lost our freedoms because of the party,” Wong told RFA. “I don’t think this is a day to celebrate, but a day when an axis of evil was established.”
“The CCP hasn’t just harmed Hong Kong, but the whole country,” she said. “It is also exploiting freedoms around the world … for example abstaining from the U.N. vote on Russia.”
“To me, this is a horrible, evil regime.”
Wong said she once used to take her children on marches in Hong Kong, but since a crackdown on public dissent under the national security law, she has only been able to exercise that right in the U.K.
A protester surnamed Tse said he was carrying the colonial-era Hong Kong flag at the protest, to express nostalgia for the city’s lost freedoms.
“We want a Hong Kong with freedom, democracy and the rule of law like we had in the past,” Tse told RFA. “Hong Kong people should have the final say in [how to run] the place, not the country next door.”
“They have trampled on the promises made to the people of Hong Kong, the commitments made in the  Sino-British Joint Declaration and on its promise to the world,” he said. “Did they once ask the people of Hong Kong [what they thought?]”
A protester surnamed Leung said there is no longer any separation of powers in Hong Kong, since Beijing imposed the national security law on the city from July 1, 2020.
“Hong Kong used to have separation of powers, but now that has been denied us,” Leung said. “Everyone wants to get Hong Kong back to the one country, two systems status that it had before.”
Uyghur dissident Rahima Mahmut told the rally that, since the PRC was founded 73 years ago, Tibet and Xinjiang have been occupied, the Cultural Revolution brought political turmoil to China, and the CCP had bloodily suppressed dissent in the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.
Hong Kong’s freedoms and democracy have been destroyed, and Uyghurs have suffered genocide, including the mass incarceration of Uyghurs in their homes for more than a month without food as part of CCP leader Xi Jinping’s zero-COVID policy, she told the crowd.
But she said Uyghurs refused to remain silent, despite facing constant threats from agents of the Chinese state while in exile overseas.