An activist group has received a warning letter for failing to notify police before leading a 32-person protest in support of Wukan villagers. The law requires demonstrations with more than 30 participants to obtain a letter of no objection from police.
A warning letter like this is very rare, said Chiu Yan-loy of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organised the protest.
Chiu said that it is the Alliance’s practice not to seek a police notice of no objection for small-scale demonstrations. The group has been in operation since 1989, the year of Tiananmen Square protests.
The Alliance co-organised the demonstration on September 14 to oppose Beijing’s crackdown on the Wukan protests, alongside the Labour Party and the League of Social Democrats. The procession marched from the Western Police Station to the China Liaison Office.
Police also gave the organisers a verbal warning during the protest, according to Apple Daily.
Since 1997, the Public Order Ordinance requires processions with more than 30 people to notify police seven days in advance and obtain a notice of no objection. In 1995, the more liberal Legislative Council repealed most of the provisions in the ordinance. But after objections from Beijing the Provisional Legislative Council, set up by the Chinese government in 1996, restored many of the repealed provisions in 1997.
Pro-democracy activists have long criticised the Public Order Ordinance as violating the city’s mini-constitution, which guarantees Hong Kong residents freedom of assembly, procession and demonstration.