By Carrie Lee
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Groups of demonstrators took to Hong Kong's streets on Tuesday, China's National Day, to condemn violations of human rights and freedoms in the city and the country as a whole.
A small group of protesters burned the Chinese flag as about 600 people, including Beijing-backed Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa, attended a ceremony nearby marking the 53rd anniversary of the founding of the Communist-ruled People's Republic.
About 100 followers of the controversial Falun Gong spiritual movement staged a silent sit-down protest against China's "persecution" of the movement and a planned local anti-subversion law which they feared would extend such persecution to Hong Kong.
The planned law, unveiled last week, has raised concerns it could be used against anyone whom China or Hong Kong's Beijing-backed government finds objectionable, such as political dissidents and Falun Gong adherents.
"This would allow a dictator to impose his own will on the government and people, and spread the human rights abuses, persecution of Falun Gong and other peaceful groups to Hong Kong," said Sharon Xu, one of the Falun Gong believers who donned their trademark yellow tee-shirts and protested in pouring rain.
They said China had tortured some 485 mainland practitioners to death and sent many others to jail, labour camps or mental hospitals.
Falun Gong is banned in mainland China but legal in Hong Kong, a former British colony which reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 with the promise of a high degree of political autonomy.
Earlier, about 20 Democratic Party members marched to the government headquarters to condemn the local legislation plan. [ ]
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