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 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 public 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.