HK police refuse permission for three anti-government marches, organisers call it ‘shocking’ attack on Basic Law rights

10-Aug-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Organisers of anti-government marches have accused police of a “shocking” clampdown on peaceful protest in Hong Kong after four applications were turned down.

Marches in Tai Po and Wong Tai Sin, both scheduled for Saturday, have been refused permission by the force over fears they could turn violent.

A third event was rejected when police barred a march to be held on Sunday from Causeway Bay to North Point, but allowed a rally to be staged in Victoria Park.

A fourth protest, proposed in Sham Shui Po, was also banned by police on Friday.

In rejecting the applications for the marches, police cited public safety reasons as all four neighbourhood had been scenes of intense clashes between police and protesters.

Two of the banned protests will be taken to an appeals board.

In a statement, the organisers of the march in Wong Tai Sin said: “According to Article 27 of the Basic Law [the city's mini-constitution], Hong Kong citizens shall have freedom of assembly, procession and demonstration.

“But the police’s repeated attempts recently to ban the application for rallies and marches in different districts are shocking.”

They said it was irresponsible for the force to ban their application by attributing responsibility for previous post-march clashes to organisers, allegations they said were unsubstantiated.

But the Wong Tai Sin event organisers said they would not lodge an appeal against the police ban due to their lack of confidence in the complaints mechanism, and called on Hongkongers to join other protests to be held in different districts.

Before joining an appeal hearing on Friday afternoon, one of the organisers of the Tai Po march, Roy Chan Hoi-hing, said they would propose some alternative plans to address the police’s concerns, including shortening the route and changing the ending points.

He added that many Tai Po residents, particularly the elderly, were keen to join the march. “They said it would be fine if they just walked six to seven laps of Tai Po Sports Ground or held a rally there,” Chan said.

He said the organising committee intended to cancel the march if the appeal failed and declined to comment on the possibility of a wildcat demonstration being mounted by others.

Tse Lai-nam, one of the two applicants seeking police approval for a march in Island East on Sunday, said they were seeking legal advice and would decide whether to appeal against the force’s march ban.

“Basically all marches would run peacefully if there were no police and Triads,” said Tse, who is also a member of the political party Demosisto.

“It’s ridiculous that police don’t tackle the gangsters in a community but suppresses the citizens’ basic right of assembly.”

He was referring to gangsters who had appeared at different protest sites to attack people with wooden, bamboo and metal sticks, including in Yuen Long on July 21 and in North Point on Monday.

Protesters have sought to highlight the five main demands of the movement, including a full withdrawal of the now-abandoned bill and an independent investigation into police’s use of force on demonstrators.

The extradition bill would have allowed the transfer of criminal suspects to jurisdictions the city does not have an extradition agreement with, including mainland China.


Category: Hong Kong

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