Hong Kong police have banned both a rally and a march organised by the Civil Human Rights Front planned for Saturday, according to the group’s convener Jimmy Sham.
It marked the first time that an entire event organised by the pro-democracy coalition has been prohibited owing to concerns over public order. Sham said police had cited previous confrontations between protesters and police as the reason for the ban.
The event was themed around reiterating the five core demands of anti-extradition law protesters on the fifth anniversary of Beijing’s decision to impose restrictive measures on Hong Kong elections. The original plan was to rally at Chater Garden at 2:30pm then march to the China Liaison Office in Sai Wan at 3pm.
Sham said the Front will appeal the decision after speaking with lawyers: “We did not see a very clear reason [to ban the protest] in the objection letter,” he said.
“We will discuss ways for residents to exercise their right to protest in a safe and legal way,” he added. “[Chief Executive] Carrie Lam has not allowed Hong Kong to return to calm, but she has used different means to make Hong Kong people even angrier.”
The police previously banned the Front’s march on August 18, citing public security concerns, but approved a static rally at Victoria Park. However, protesters marched peacefully to Central nonetheless, without facing any police interference.
Several dozen people organised a protest outside the Front’s office on Thursday to condemn the organisation over its involvement in the recent unrest. But instead, protesters went to the office of Rainbow of Hong Kong, an LGBT+ rights group. The group is not among the 50-odd members of the coalition, but Sham nevertheless waited for the protesters at the centre, resulting in a verbal confrontation.
The Front was behind three other huge protests since June, which they say attracted millions of demonstrators.
Protests show little sign of abating, with more planned over the coming days. A rally at Chater Garden at 7:45pm on Friday has been planned to demonstrate against the alleged mistreatment of animals during ongoing protests.
“The purpose of this assembly is to discuss and educate the public about tear gas effects on animals and subsequent treatment if they have been affected,” the organiser wrote on the event page. “We also condemn the dispatch of police dogs at the scene of public demonstrations and [their] misuse by the Hong Kong police. Animals have been found to suffer from various adverse symptoms as a consequence of these irresponsible actions.”
They urged the police to stop dispatching police dogs at protests; stop the firing of tear gas or any other similar chemical substances within close proximity of police dogs or within residential areas, and stop the use of unnecessary or disproportionate force.
Police have yet to approve the gathering.
Meanwhile, a group of unidentified protesters from around 20 different sectors held a press conference on Wednesday calling for a two-day strike starting next Monday.
Two rallies will be held at Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui and Tamar Park in Admiralty on Monday, and another will be held at Chater Garden in Central on Tuesday.
A social worker, who spoke under the pseudonym Winston, said that protests have lasted for 80 days and can only be ended by the government adhering to their demands.
“Only by immediately implementing dual universal suffrage as promised in the Basic Law, which has not yet been fulfilled, can we reverse the current embarrassing state of the Hong Kong SAR government, and truly realise that Hong Kong is ruled by Hongkongers,” he said.
During the last citywide strike on August 5, seven rallies were held in conjunction in different areas. Traffic in several districts was brought to a standstill, and clashes between protesters and police broke out.
Police have arrested almost 900 people in relation to the ongoing anti-extradition law protests since June.
The ill-fated bill would have allowed case-by-case fugitive transfers to China. Since June, large-scale peaceful protests have morphed into – sometimes violent – displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment, democracy, alleged police brutality, surveillance and other community grievances.
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