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

blank placard apm mall protest july 7 2020
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.

purple warning flag apm mall protest july 7 2020
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.

apm mall protest july 7 2020
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.

yellow warning flag apm mall protest july 7 2020
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. “

apm mall protest july 7 2020
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 2020, Beijing inserted national security legislation directly into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – bypassing the local legislature – following a year of pro-democracy protests and unrest. It criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure. The move gave police sweeping new powers, alarming democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China. However, the authorities say it has restored stability and peace to the city.

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Tom Grundy

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