The MTR Corporation has announced that Sai Ying Pun station will be closed from 1:30pm on Saturday, as large-scale demonstrations are expected on Hong Kong Island.
The station is near the China Liaison Office, which has become a target for protesters since July in the ongoing anti-extradition bill movement. The MTRC cited “public activities likely to be taking place in Hong Kong Island” as the reason to preemptively close the station.
August 31 marks the fifth anniversary of a controversial white paper on Hong Kong democracy handed down from Beijing. The framework sought to impose restrictions on the city’s small-circle election for its chief executive. The 2014 decision by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, China’s top lawmaking body, was the catalyst for the 79-day occupation movement that autumn but was eventually rejected by lawmakers.
The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) had organised a march for Saturday afternoon but the event was banned by police and the plan was withdrawn.
Repeating a move first seen on August 18, Hong Kong police have sent out cautionary messages via SMS. “Public event on Hong Kong Island this [afternoon] may cause severe disruptions,” the text message read. “Please stay alert and check for police updates.”
On Friday, police rounded up at least eight pro-democracy activists in what critics have called a political “mass arrest.” Some were charged with offences relating to inciting, organising or attending an unauthorised assembly.
Pro-democracy lawmakers issued a statement just after Saturday midnight condemning the round-up. Among those arrested were democrats Cheng Chung-tai, Au Nok-hin and Jeremy Tam.
The statement, co-signed by 24 lawmakers, said that the purpose of the arrests was to further create white terror and to deter Hongkongers from protesting in the streets: “We demand that the police stop the mass arrests, and again remind the Carrie Lam administration not to lead Hong Kong away from the path of a civilised society.”
Despite the ban on the CHRF march, netizens have vowed to go to Hong Kong Island under various pretexts to avoid unlawful assembly arrests. Some have suggested going shopping, singing, playing football or attending cultural and religious events.
On Saturday morning, the Reddit-like forum LIHKG – a key online hub for protesters – reported that it was suffering from a “distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on an unprecedented scale.” Users were thus unable to access LIHKG via the mobile app.
The app was functional again shortly before 11am.
At around 11pm on Friday night, a police officer who worked in the armoury was injured in a knife attack near Kwai Chung Police Station.
The off-duty officer, 45, was attacked as he was leaving work by three men wearing masks, one of whom was wielding a knife. The officer suffered injuries to his head, arms and legs and was rushed to Princess Margaret Hospital.
Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo visited the officer in hospital in the early hours of Saturday and condemned the attack, saying that it was “despicable,” adding that wounding with intent was liable to life imprisonment.
Lo said that police were investigating the motive of the attack, adding that they believed the victim did not have personal grievances with anyone.
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