Localist protesters, pro-Beijing demonstrators and police clashed during a protest in Mong Kok on Saturday, leading to the use of pepper spray by police and the detention of a localist leader.
Members of Caring Hong Kong Power, a pro-Beijing group, had gathered to promote the implementation of Basic Law Article 23, which calls for a Hong Kong national security law. Several localist groups staged a counter-protest which later led to a standoff with police.
In a press release, police said that “participants of different groups disputed and scuffled with each other… [police urged] them to express their views in a peaceful and rational manner but they refused to comply.”
As the pro-Beijing supporters left on Saturday evening, localist groups turned on the square dancing “aunties” prevalent in the area. Police used pepper spray and detained and charged Simon Sin, leader of a localist group. Sin was released by midnight.
Police have “strongly condemned the unlawful behaviours of protesters” and said that they “will not rule out the possibility of further arrest action”.
Caring Hong Kong Power, a pro-Beijing group led by Anna Chan, set up a booth on Sai Yeung Choi Street South and chanted slogans such as “loving the country and Hong Kong is indisputable”.
Caring Hong Kong Power was founded in 2011. Along with other groups, such as Silent Majority for Hong Kong and Voice of Loving Hong Kong, they represent pro-government voices outside the traditional pro-establishment camp.
Localist groups Civic Passion, Hong Kong Indigenous and Hong Kong Localism Power gathered in response, voicing their opposition against Article 23 as well as Caring Hong Kong Power. A large number of police officers were present to separate the two camps and recorded the protests from mobile platforms.
Posted by Resistance Live on Saturday, July 11, 2015
Civic Passion, founded in 2012, is one of the leading localist groups in Hong Kong. Hong Kong Indigenous and Hong Kong Localism Power are localist groups spawned from the Occupy movement in 2014. While localist groups support democracy, they are better known for their anti-communist stance and close association with movements promoting the expansion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and independence.
The Colonial Flag is ripped apart, PRC flag being waved with pride afterwards pic.twitter.com/URMdTePNTt
— Joel Christian (@2legit2trip) July 11, 2015
During the standoff, pro-Beijing protesters tore a colonial Hong Kong flag belonging to the other camp.
Localist groups then protested against the “dancing aunties”, arguing that the groups are a disturbance and signal what they perceive to be the “mainlandisation” of Hong Kong.
Square dancing is popular among middle-aged women known as “dama”, meaning aunties, in mainland China. The performance has grown increasingly common in Hong Kong. Characterised by noisy and old-fashioned dance routines, it has drawn ire among local residents and even in mainland China.
Posted by 蕭雲 on Saturday, 11 July 2015
At 7:45pm, Simon Sin, leader of HK Localism Power, was wrestled to the ground from behind by a senior officer as he heckled the dancers who were taunting the crowd from behind a line of police officers. Pepper spray was used soon after the arrest by police.
These are the moments just after Simon was knocked to the ground by police officers from behind without warning and the police started pepperspraying.Sai Yeung Choi Street South, 2015-07-11
Posted by Lostdutch on Sunday, 12 July 2015
In their press release, police said that they “respect the public’s freedoms of expression, speech and assembly”, but “resolute enforcement actions will be taken against any illegal acts to preserve public order and safeguard public safety”.
The arrested HK Localism Power convenor Simon Sin has just been released. pic.twitter.com/so31ybEgrR
— Kris Cheng (@krislc) July 11, 2015
On July 1, China passed a revised national security law, which mentioned Hong Kong for the first time. The law sparked concern in the pro-democracy camp and reignited discussions over Article 23. In 2003, 500,000 people took to the streets to voice opposition to a proposed Hong Kong national security law, which was seen as a threat to political and personal freedom. The bill was shelved indefinitely after the pro-business Liberal Party withdrew support in the aftermath of the march.
Additional Reporting by Vicky Wong and Ryan Kilpatrick.