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Hong Kong democracy activists mourn death of Liu Xiaobo

© AFP | Democracy activists and members of the public gathered outside China's liaison office in Hong Kong Thursday night to mourn the death in custody of China's Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and vent their anger at Beijing.

HONG KONG (AFP) - 

Democracy activists and members of the public gathered outside China's liaison office in Hong Kong Thursday night to mourn the death in custody of China's Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and vent their anger at Beijing.

They filed past a table decked with bunches of white chrysanthemums and a black and white photograph of Liu before signing a condolence book, some crying and shouting with rage at his fate.

Police heavily guarded the area, letting only 10 people pass to the tribute area at a time. A line of mourners snaked down the pavement beside the building in western Hong Kong Island.

Some activists had been camping outside round the clock for days, calling for cancer-stricken Liu to be allowed to leave China for medical treatment.

The release of Liu and his wife was also the main demand of the city's annual pro-democracy march on July 1, hours after President Xi Jinping had flown out of the semi-autonomous city following 20th anniversary celebrations of the handover of Hong Kong back to China by Britain.

"This process has made Hong Kong people feel the Chinese authorities are inhumane and without any consideration for human rights," said veteran activist Richard Tsoi of the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organises the city's massive annual vigil commemorating the victims of the brutal Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing in 1989.

Heartbroken elderly protester Alexandra Wong, a fixture of pro-democracy and pro-independence rallies, screamed sobbing outside the liaison office gates.

"President Xi, you've gone mad! President Xi, die!" she shouted carrying the yellow umbrella which became a symbol of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement during mass protests in 2014.

Ordinary members of the public also lined up to pay their respects.

"I'm really sad today. Liu Xiaobo only had peaceful demands," said office worker Daisy Lam, 55.

"If you had just a little bit of humanity you wouldn't treat a dying patient like this."

Lam said she had joined the small sit-in outside the liaison office in the past few days.

She criticised the heavy police presence Thursday night as "ridiculous".

"I'm so angry. People are merely expressing freely, commemorating. Why treat us like the enemy?" she told AFP.

There are growing fears in Hong Kong that liberties guaranteed on the handover, including an independent judiciary and freedom of speech, are under threat from an increasingly assertive Beijing.

Democracy activist Avery Ng shouted: "We are all Liu Xiaobo!" outside the liaison office gates.

Political party Demosisto, led by pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong and young lawmaker Nathan Law, described China's treatment of Liu as "shameful".

It also called on the international community to "pay close attention to the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people under Chinese authoritarian rule".

© 2017 AFP