Police have erected large water-filled barriers around access points to Wan Chai’s Golden Bauhinia Square ahead of the city’s Establishment Day flag-raising ceremony on Monday.
In the early hours of Saturday, nearby roads were closed as police – some with riot shields – stood guard and redirected traffic.
The festivities marking 22 years since the city’s 1997 Handover will take place on the waterfront outside the Convention and Exhibition Centre. Two trade shows – the Premium Pet Suppliers Expo 2019 and In-Home Expo 2019 – which were scheduled to end on Sunday, instead concluded on Saturday.
On Friday, Tam Tak-chi – vice-chair of pro-democracy party People Power – told HKFP that anti-extradition law activists had plans to disrupt the ceremony.
Over recent weeks, mass protests and wildcat acts of civil disobedience have rocked the city after the government sought to enact an extradition law with territories such as China. Critics have raised concerns over the risk of residents being sent to the mainland, which lacks human rights protections. The bill was suspended on June 15, but has not been withdrawn.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said on Friday that the ceremony could be held indoors if the weather was poor.
#HongKong‘s gov’t said in a press release on Sat that the controversial extradition law bill “will lapse after the current term of the Legislative Council ends in July next year.”
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) June 29, 2019
Meanwhile, Apple Daily reports that 5,000 officers are set to be deployed on Monday.
‘Pressure building up’
A large turnout is expected for the annual pro-democracy march on Monday afternoon. Organisers The Civil Human Rights Front said millions attended their anti-extradition law rallies in June.
According to RTHK, Vice-convenor Bonnie Leung said on Saturday that the government had been “arrogant” in ignoring their demands. “[T]he pressure in the society and also in the international community [was] obviously building up. And lots of young protesters voluntarily did a lot of actions to show that they are still unhappy about what the government had not done,” she said.
The march will begin at 2:30pm in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay and end at government headquarters in Admiralty. Participants have been asked to wear black or white.
Protesters will call for the extradition law to be scrapped entirely, for political prisoners to be released and for democratic reform to be restarted. They will demand the characterisation of the June 12 anti-extradition law protest as a “riot” be retracted, and the police investigated for apparent misconduct after using crowd control weapons. The Front is also calling for Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down.
Lam has not been seen in public since a June 18 press conference, though she is expected to attend Monday’s flag-raising ceremony.
Meanwhile, a pro-Beijing coalition – the Hong Kong Celebrations Association – has booked football pitches in Victoria Park on Monday for a celebration relating to the Greater Bay Area.
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