Hong Kong Police issued 29 demonstrators with fixed penalty tickets for allegedly violating the coronavirus gathering ban on Sunday. Crowds had congregated in two shopping centres in Mong Kok a day before the anniversary of a police swoop on Prince Edward MTR station during last year’s citywide protests.
At around 2 pm, citizens responded to online calls and began to gather at MOKO mall next to Mong Kok East station. According to local media, there were nearly 100 people in the mall at the height of the demonstration.
The crowds chanted slogans and played songs related to the anti-extradition bill movement. Some left memo notes reading “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” a popular protest slogan that is now banned under the Beijing-imposed national security law. The government claimed last month that it was pro-independence and had secessionist or subversive connotations.
Others held placards reading “Never forget August 31” and urged police to disclose CCTV footage from the train station during their clearance operation last year.
On Sunday, dozens of uniformed police entered MOKO mall at around 3.30 pm and set up cordons to conduct stop-and-searches.
A year ago, baton-wielding police officers stormed into Prince Edward station and deployed pepper spray on the platform and inside the train compartment while making arrests. Despite multiple injuries, a police officer turned fire services medics away twice, leading to a one-hour delay in treatment.
Following the incident, there were widespread unfounded rumours that police killed civilians during the operation. The force has repeatedly denied such claims – which were debunked by FactWire – slamming the speculation as “slanderous.”
“Certain people spread such malicious comments to slander the government and to stir up grievances in society… there was certainly no death,” the force said last September.
Last month, Beijing official Zhang Xiaoming suggested that people who spread rumours about police beating citizens to death in the train station may be seen as violating national security legislation: “This kind of act focuses all societal dissatisfaction towards the police out of nothing… acts targeting the Central Government with malice and serious consequences – that might have [legal] consequences.”
According to police on Facebook, nine men and five women were ticketed in MOKO mall on Sunday for allegedly breaching the Covid-19 ban on public gatherings of over two people. The force also warned that those who chanted the slogan “liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” might be in breach of the security legislation, which outlaws secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces.
Similar police actions were seen at Langham Place at around 6pm, where people showed up to chant protest slogans. The force sealed off parts of the mall and searched citizens. Officers issued fixed penalty tickets of HK$2,000 to 13 men and two women for allegedly defying the gathering restrictions.
Mong Kok arrests
Separately, police arrested two men, aged 16 and 39, in Mong Kok on suspicion of possessing an imitation firearm and an extendable baton respectively.
“Police express the strongest condemnation against possession of such as it poses a serious threat to safety of the public. Police reiterate that we have zero tolerance towards any illegal acts,” the force wrote on Facebook.