Hong Kong pro-democracy marchers are “not ruling out” an overnight protest at Civic Square following the annual New Year’s Day rally on Monday.

The Civil Human Rights Front has been granted a letter of no objection from the police to end its march at the symbolic area outside government headquarters. It was closed by then-leader Leung Chun-ying in 2014, but was re-opened by current Chief Executive Carrie Lam on a limited basis on Thursday.

civic square government headquarters
Photo: GovHK.

Known formally as the East Wing Forecourt of the Central Government Offices, the area is open to the public from 6am to 11pm daily, but protesters will only be allowed to gather there on Sundays and public holidays.

The march on January 1 is scheduled to end at 6:30pm after beginning at 2pm in East Point Road, Causeway Bay.

“We don’t worry [about being cleared out by the police],” Civil Human Rights Front convener Sammy Ip told RTHK.

“Firstly it depends on the headcount. If many people turn up, [the police] don’t have an excuse to clear us out, because our march will not have ended.”

“Secondly, it’s clear that re-opening Civic Square is a piece of political engineering by Carrie Lam. I don’t think she would want to do something ugly at the very first large-scale protest.”

civil human rights front
Civil Human Rights Front members at a press conference earlier this month. File photo: In-Media.

The police told RTHK that they have not yet assessed the risks of Civic Square being “re-occupied”. They cited the march’s organisers as estimating that around 2,000 participants will turn up.

The Civil Human Rights Front is organising the march to demonstrate against the recent changes to the Legislative Council’s Rules of Procedure, advocacy of passing national security legislation among some pro-Beijing figures, and a constitutionally-disputed plan to enforce mainland laws in part of the new West Kowloon high-speed rail terminus, among other issues.

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.