The Hong Kong police have demanded that Sunday’s Civil Human Rights Front march be cut short, to prevent “violent acts” and a potential storming of government headquarters.
The anti-extradition law rally at 3pm will call for an independent commission of inquiry into recent demonstrations and the police use of force. In their earlier proposal to police, the Front suggested protesters would march from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to the Court of Final Appeal in Central.
But the police denied the plan in a letter of no objection issued on Friday afternoon. They demanded the march end at Luard Road in Wan Chai – a much shorter route – on the basis of public safety and public order.
“According [to] the information being circulated on the Internet, someone is now encouraging others to assemble at [the] Admiralty area and would breach… the peace, carry out violent acts (including assaulting on Police Officers) as well as storm the Central Government Complex,” the police said in the letter.
“In consideration of public safety…, public order, and protection of the rights and freedom of others… it is considered that the risk of public safety and public order would be very high if the public procession is passing through [the] Admiralty area.”
The police will allow only three traffic lanes and two tram lanes to be opened on Hennessy Road for the march.
The police also demanded the march must end at 9pm, unlike previous marches that were allowed to continue until midnight.
The Front said it has filed an appeal to the Security Bureau’s Appeal Board on Public Meetings and Processions, and has demanded a hearing be heard on Saturday.
It previously organised three major marches in June and July. It said that a million joined the march on June 9, two million joined on June 16, and 550,000 joined on July 1.
During their July 1 rally, the police asked the Front to postpone the march or end it in Wan Chai owing to scenes of unrest around the Legislative Council, but the Front refused. They changed the endpoint to Chater Road in Central instead, and warned participants that they could be considered by the police to be joining an unlawful assembly if they chose to continue marching after reaching Wan Chai.
Earlier this week, the Hong Kong government denied reports that it was studying the possibility of declaring a curfew. But pro-Beijing lawmakers have been calling for a ban on protests.
The controversial extradition bill would allow the city to handle case-by-case fugitive transfers to jurisdictions with no prior arrangements, including China. On July 9, Chief Executive Carrie Lam declared the bill “dead,” but did not enact any mechanism to withdraw it.
Ahead of Sunday’s march, metal fences have been removed from roads near Victoria Park, the starting point, and from around government headquarters in Admiralty.
Metal fences have often been uprooted and used by protesters to build barricades. The fences were replaced with orange tape.
Police are defending Govt Complex w/ 2M height water barriers. Let them build the wall. #antiELAB #ExtraditionBill #HongKongProtest pic.twitter.com/2cgIDpI3rh
— Galileo Cheng (@galileocheng) July 18, 2019
Two-metre tall water barricades have also been deployed outside the government headquarters as well as the chief executive’s office.
Meanwhile, Ming Pao cited sources as saying that 2,000 officers will be deployed on Sunday to handle the protests. If protesters block roads, the police will take action immediately if instructions are given to clear demonstrators, the source said.