Hong Kong police have banned two upcoming protests planned for this weekend. The force also revealed that they have arrested 748 people since the mass anti-extradition law protests began in June.
Saturday’s marches in Hung Hom and To Kwa Wan, organised by district activists, as well as a Sunday protest organised by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) from Causeway Bay to Central were both banned over public safety concerns. On Sunday, only a static rally in Victoria Park against police violence will be allowed to proceed on Sunday.
“We are very dissatisfied with this decision, and believe this decision will impose a danger to a large number of participants,” the CHRF said in a statement. “We have already applied for an appeal. Will give further notice to media when more details are revealed,”
In previous weeks, efforts to ban or restrict anti-government and anti-police demonstrations have failed, with protesters appearing anyway, and clashes often breaking out on the frontlines with police.
Timothy Lee, president of the group Synergy Kowloon who applied for Saturday’s march, said Hung Hom and To Kwa Wan have seen huge influxes of mainland Chinese tour groups, turning the two districts into budget tourist shopping areas, affecting the liveability of the communities.
A march from Hung Hom Ferry Pier to Sung Wong Toi Playground was proposed, but police said serious conflicts had broken out at recent protests which were out of the applicants’ control. The police also said the use of the Sung Wong Toi Playground was not approved by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, thus Lee’s application for a letter of no objection was rejected.
Lee said the police ignored residents’ rights to assembly under the Basic Law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: “Hong Kong people are very angry at the cold-blooded regime led by Carrie Lam. I believe that, even if I tell people not to do anything on Saturday, their anger will not disappear,” he said.
Lee burned the rejection letter issued by the police in front of reporters.
Lee said he will appeal the police decision, as he urged police not to use excessive force and expired tear gas in the areas on Saturday.
At their Thursday press briefing, police said that 748 people had been arrested in relation to the summer’s protests since June 9 – 115 of them have been charged.
The force confirmed that they fired 35 rounds of tear gas and one rubber bullet during the Sham Shui Po operation on Wednesday night, and arrested 15 men and two women aged between 15 and 61.