Police ban of mass HK protest planned by Civil Human Rights Front upheld on appeal

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

An appeal board has upheld Hong Kong police’s objection to a march and rally proposed by the Civil Human Rights Front for Saturday.

Head of the appeal board Dr Pang Kin-kee said on Friday the events would pose a serious danger to the public and the city’s facilities, based on violence at past events.

The front’s convenor Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit said before the ruling he would seek to hold the protests another day if the force’s objection was not overturned, a position he confirmed after the decision.

The decision was handed down after the front’s legal representatives offered their appeal, with police superintendents responding, in a 11/2-hour hearing in Wan Chai.

Speaking afterwards, Sham confirmed the march would be cancelled and apologised to the public.

“We have done everything we can. But we’ll continue to apply for future marches on the same theme of calling for universal suffrage,” Sham said.

He said the front would keep on applying for future events, which could come as early as September.

Vice-convenor Bonnie Leung said the government and police had banned a peaceful means of protest, as she expressed concern over how Hongkongers would react.

“I really do not want to see anyone get hurt,” Leung said. “Now Hongkongers have to think about how to express their anger and discontent.”

Representing the front at the hearing, Hectar Pun said the proposed events offered a reasonable way for people to express their views, helping to ensure stability in society.

He laid out a new format for the march, described as “assembly in motion”, with five gathering points that offered opportunities for protesters to join and disperse.

There was not one single point of entry or exit where overcrowding could occur, Pun added.

Explaining the police’s decision to ban the march, Superintendent Liauw Ka-kei said even though the front was an experienced organiser of peaceful marches, the tense relationship between the public and police had led to violent confrontations.

Liauw also showed the appeal board screenshots of social media posts threatening violence on the August 31 march, which mentioned the “endgame”.

On Thursday, the force confirmed its decision to reject the front’s application for a rally at Chater Garden in Central at 3pm on Saturday and an associated march to Beijing’s liaison office in Western district.

It was the first time police had rejected a bid from the organisation to hold both a rally and a march.

The fifth anniversary of Beijing announcing a restrictive electoral reform package which was eventually rejected by Hong Kong falls on Saturday.

The city has been shaken by protests since June 9, sparked by controversy over the now-abandoned extradition bill, which would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent back to mainland China.

The anti-government movement has five main demands, including the bill’s complete withdrawal, the establishment of an independent inquiry into police’s handling of protests and genuine universal suffrage.



Category: Hong Kong

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