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Hong Kong lawyers march against Beijing 'interference'

HONG KONG--More than a thousand lawyers all dressed in black took to the streets of Hong Kong in a silent march Friday against “interference” by Beijing in the city's judiciary.

China issued its first ever policy document stipulating how Hong Kong should be governed earlier this month, in what was widely interpreted as a warning to the city not to overstep the boundaries of its autonomy.

It included an assertion that judges should safeguard national security and sovereignty, a move which has angered many in the the city's legal community.

The lawyers dressed in black suits and ties walked down the streets in silence from the High Court to the Court of Final Appeal where they gathered to observe three minutes of silence.

Organizers said 1,800 people attended the march, with law students also taking part.

“We want to send a very clear message to the central people's government, do not interfere, do not damage our rule of law, it is too precious for Hong Kong,” said lawmaker and lawyer Dennis Kwok, who also organized the march.

“When it comes to the rule of law, we will not budge an inch, we will not accept anything that compromises the rule of law including the white paper,” Kwok said.

After the publication of the white paper, the Hong Kong Bar Association said in a statement that judges should safeguard judicial independence as they are not the government's “administrators.”

“We are concerned about the rule of law, the international image of Hong Kong and the independence of the judiciary which is a very important cornerstone of an international financial centre,” pro-democracy lawmaker and solicitor James To told AFP.

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