Hong Kong police dispersed a peaceful “blank placard” protest at a Kwun Tong mall on Monday evening, making eight arrests.
Officers entered the APM mall on Kwun Tong Road and raised warning banners stating that demonstrators were potentially in breach of the new national security law.
Dozens of protesters gathered at around 6pm in silence whilst holding blank placards. The stunt came after the government said that the popular slogan “Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times” was illegal.
Last week, the authorities said the phrase was secessionist, pro-independence and therefore not allowed under the new security legislation.
Police said three men and five women aged between 17 and 68 were arrested on Monday: “Crowds gathered and shouted in a shopping mall on Kwun Tong Road, Kwun Tong, breaching public peace. Police hence entered the mall to maintain order, gave repeated warnings to the crowd and requested them to leave immediately. However, some protestors refused to follow Police’s instructions and continued to assemble and shout. “
Officers created cordons inside the mall as shops closed. They eight were arrested on suspicion of taking part in an unauthorised assembly and obstructing police officers.
In June, Beijing enacted laws to prevent, stop and punish behaviours in Hong Kong that it deemed a threat to national security. The legislation was inserted into the city’s mini-constitution, bypassing the local legislature, in order to criminalise subversion, secession, foreign interference and terrorism. The move – which gives police sweeping new powers – alarmed democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China.