HK protests: more than 1,000 gather in Causeway Bay for approved anti-government rally, with banned marches also likely to attract demonstrators

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

More than 1,000 black-clad demonstrators were gathering in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay for an anti-government protest on Sunday afternoon as Hong Kong braced for another day of unrest.

The rally in one of Hong Kong’s most popular shopping districts was given official approval, but two marches planned in Sham Shui Po and east Hong Kong Island on Sunday have been banned by police.

But it was expected large crowds of protesters would go beyond the restricted area in Causeway Bay and occupy roads in the eastern part of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon to voice their demands, following the pattern of previous unauthorised and part-approved protests.

The city has been shaken since early June by protests, sparked by the now-abandoned extradition bill, as it enters its tenth consecutive week of unrest.

Police were gearing up in North Point, while security at Happy Valley police station had been stepped up on Sunday.

Several shops and shopping malls in North Point and Sham Shui Po have also closed.

On Saturday, clashes broke out in several parts of the city after protesters took part in an unapproved march in Tai Po, with tear gas fired in Tai Wai and Tsim Sha Tsui.

Police said they had arrested 16 people. At least seven people were injured.

Police had repeatedly warned that taking part in unauthorised protests was illegal.

The five key demands of the movement include the formal withdrawal of the extradition bill, accountability for police’s use of force, and genuine universal suffrage.

The legislation would have allowed the transfer of criminal suspects to mainland China and other jurisdictions with which the city does not have an extradition agreement.

Among those at the rally in Victoria Park were Mandy Chan Siu-wing, a 31-year-old accountant, and nurse Lai Wun-wa, 29.

The pair urged the government to respond to the five demands of protesters, including setting up an independent inquiry to probe police’s handling of the demonstrations.

“Police abuse of power has become more serious. Firing tear gas has become a minimal force used to disperse protesters but the government is not doing anything about it and even supported the police,” Chan said.

Lai also criticised the police for banning marches this weekend.

“Besides a stable economy, freedom of speech is the core value of Hongkongers.

“And the police is curbing that by raising the cost of protesting. Their salary is paid by Hong Kong’s taxpayers. They should not arrest residents in an abusive manner,” she said.


Category: Hong Kong

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