Protests across Hong Kong were cancelled on Christmas Eve amid a large police deployment in several districts. At least two people were arrested.

Netizens called for protests in several districts on Thursday evening to remember pro-democracy activists who were in jail or in exile. Demonstrators were also hoping to remember 12 Hong Kong people detained in China, as well as families affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Heavy police presence in Tsim Sha Tsui on Christmas Eve. Photo: StandNews, via video screenshot.

The police force said on Facebook ahead of the protest on Thursday that there would be “adequate police deployment to enforce the law resolutely.”

Police said later in the evening that two 13-year-olds were arrested in Sha Tin for alleged possession of imitation firearm.

Heavy police deployments were spotted in the announced protest locations, including in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kwun Tong, Causeway Bay, Shatin, and Yuen Long, according to local media coverage.

Causeway Bay. Photo: StandNews.

One of the organisers announced on Telegram that the protest in Tsim Sha Tsui was cancelled due to the police deployment. Organisers of the other district demonstrations also halted their plans 40 minutes after the starting time owing to a low participation rate and heavy police presence.

Grandma Wong in Tsim Sha Tsui on Christmas Eve. Photo: StandNews, via video screenshot.

According to livestream videos from Stand News and InMedia, protester “Grandma Wong” was at the scene in Tsim Sha Tsui, shouting protest slogans such as “five demands, not one less,” as well as displaying light boxes that said “Stand with Hong Kong, Fight for Freedom.”

“I hope that every Hongkonger can have a happy Christmas… We can find happiness in times of pain, and protest through entertainment, our protest will make us grow,” Wong told InMedia.

Police repeatedly played a recording warning stating that people present in Tsim Sha Tsui might be in violation of the coronavirus social-distancing rules.

Kwun Tong. Photo: BeWaterHK.

Hong Kong has not seen any police-approved mass protests since the implementation of coronavirus social-distancing rules. Currently all gatherings of more than two people are banned.

Last year, Hong Kong saw protests and violent clashes across the city on Christmas Eve, as demonstrations against an extradition bill which would allow the transfer of fugitives to China continued into the new year.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.