Hong Kong police dispersed a peaceful “blank placard” protest at a Kwun Tong mall on Monday evening, making eight arrests.

Photo: Kevin Cheng/United Social Press.

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.

Photo: Guardians of Hong Kong, screenshot.

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.

Photo: Joshua Kwan/United Social Press.

Last week, the authorities said the phrase was secessionist, pro-independence and therefore not allowed under the new security legislation.

Photo: Joshua Kwan/United Social Press.

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. “

Photo: Joshua Kwan/United Social Press.

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 behaviour 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 – following a year of pro-democracy protests and unrest. It criminalised subversion, secession, foreign interference and interference with transportation and other infrastructure. The move – which gave 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.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications & New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Quartz, Global Post and others.