Hong Kong Law & Crime Politics & Protest

Thousands of Hongkongers march in defiance of anti-mask law, despite metro shutdown, heavy rain, tear gas

Masked demonstrators joined unauthorised protests on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon on Sunday, defying a new emergency law banning facial coverings at protests.

Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

The protests, now in their 18th week, drew tens of thousands to the streets despite heavy rain and the closure of key MTR stations.

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Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

But, by late afternoon, tear gas had been deployed near government headquarters in Admiralty and Wan Chai to clear demonstrators, whilst riot police sought to disperse crowds in Kowloon Tong.

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Hong Kong Island. Photo: Holmes Chan / HKFP.

The anti-mask law was enacted by Chief Executive Carrie Lam via emergency legislation and came into effect on Saturday.

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Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

Protesters nevertheless wore medical masks, Halloween masks, makeup and even facial treatment masks on Sunday.

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Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon. Photo: Tom Grundy / HKFP.

Those who violate the new law a maximum punishment of a year in prison or a fine of HK$25,000.

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Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

Netizens called for a turnout of “three million” on Sunday as a show of strength. The largest demonstration since the movement began in June had a turnout of approximately two million, according to organisers.

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Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

All lanes of Hennessey Road and Yee Wo Street were occupied by protesters as they carried a large banner reading “Hong Kong police attempt to murder.” Another read “our gov is killing us.”

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Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

A 14-year-old and an 18-year-old were shot by police this week. The force said the incidents were appropriate and justified as self-defence.

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Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

Throughout the day, demonstrators built makeshift barricades and targetted at least one branch of Starbucks.

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Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

Branches of the coffeeshop have been vandalised in recent weeks after the daughter of the local franchisee’s owner – the Maxim’s caterers founder – spoke against the movement at the United Nations.

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Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

Mainland-owned businesses and banks were also vandalised.

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A 360 store in Jordan. Photo: Tom Grundy / HKFP.

In an SMS, Hong Kong police appealed to residents to remain alert and remain at home: “Unauthorised public events expected today will likely cause violence & disruptions. Please stay alert, avoid going out & check for police updates,” it read.

Large-scale peaceful protests against a bill that would have enabled extraditions to China have evolved since June into sometimes violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment, democracy and alleged police brutality.

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Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

Kowloon protest

Over in Kowloon, thousands chanted “Hongkongers resist” and “six demands” – in reference to fresh calls to disband the police force. Though the bill has been withdrawn, demonstrators are also demanding a fully independent probe into police behaviour, amnesty for those arrested, universal suffrage and a halt to the characterisation of protests as “riots.”

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Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

Almost all demonstrators were masked, as they passed through Jordan and heckled the local police station en route to Sham Shui Po.

“We need to fight for freedom… we have the right to wear a mask in Hong Kong,” one protester told HKFP. Another, who was unmasked, said she had already been attending the summer’s protests without covering her face on principle.

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A man signals for “six demands.” Photo: Chau Ho Man / United Social Press.

Protesters also barricaded MTR exits in Yau Ma Tei – the only station open in the Yau Tsim Mong district. It was closed soon after.

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Kowloon. Photo: Jimmy Lam / United Social Press.

Following an unprecedented full shutdown on Saturday, the MTR Corporation announced that it would only reopen 45 of its 93 stations on Sunday.

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Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

See also: Explainer: ‘The Communist Party’s Railway’ – How Hong Kong’s once-respected MTR fell afoul of protesters

All train services will end at 9pm on Sunday to allow for more time for repairs, it said, after station facilities were vandalised.

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Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

As protesters reached Kowloon Tong, riot police rushed the crowds at Waterloo Road causing protesters to scatter towards Sham Shui Po, Cheung Sha Wan and Kowloon City.

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Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

Earlier on Sunday, pro-democracy legislators sought an emergency injunction against the mask ban at the High Court, arguing that the new law bypassed the legislature and contravened the city’s Basic Law.

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Hong Kong Island. Photo: May James / HKFP.

However, the injunction demand was dismissed by a senior judge.


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Thousands of Hongkongers march in defiance of anti-mask law, despite metro shutdown, heavy rain, tear gas