Hong Kong police maintain tight tabs on first authorised protest in years By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A common view of skyline buildings, in Hong Kong, China July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

By Jessie Pang

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong police on Sunday permitted a small protest march underneath tight restrictions in one of many first demonstrations to be authorised because the enactment of a sweeping nationwide safety regulation in 2020.

A number of dozen demonstrators had been required to put on numbered lanyards and had been barred from carrying masks, as police monitored their march in opposition to a proposed land reclamation and garbage processing mission.

Contributors chanted slogans in opposition to the reclamation mission as they marched within the rain with banners within the jap district of Tseung Kwan O, the place the mission is slated to be constructed.

Some additionally criticised the restrictions on their protest, which included a most of 100 contributors, in line with a seven-page letter from police to organisers, seen by Reuters.

“We have to have a extra free-spirited protest tradition,” mentioned James Ockenden, 49, who was marching along with his three kids.

“However that is all pre-arranged and numbered and it simply destroys the tradition and can put individuals off from coming for certain.”

Police granted the organisers a “no objection” letter for the protest on the situation they guarantee it might not violate nationwide safety legal guidelines, together with seditious shows or speech.

“Some lawbreakers could combine into the general public assembly and procession to disrupt public order and even interact in unlawful violence,” the police warned of their letter.

Organisers mentioned as much as 50 individuals took half within the first protest to be authorised by town’s police for a number of years.

Purposes for different protests, together with a candlelight vigil on June 4 to commemorate the victims of China’s Tiananmen Sq. crackdown in 1989, have been denied on grounds associated to COVID social-distancing.

The final of Hong Kong’s COVID restrictions was scrapped this yr, following China’s resolution to finish its “zero-COVID” insurance policies.

Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Primary Legislation, ensures the suitable to public meeting.

For the reason that China-imposed nationwide safety regulation, enacted in June 2020 in response to protracted pro-democracy protests in 2019, authorities have clamped down on freedoms and arrested scores of opposition politicians and activists.

Some Western governments have criticised the regulation as a instrument of repression however Chinese language authorities say it has restored stability to the monetary hub.

One protester surnamed Chiu, 50, mentioned she appreciated the possibility to protest “in troublesome instances”, and mentioned she noticed the lanyards extra as a method to facilitate crowd administration.

“It doesn’t suggest placing a leash on us to limit our expression. I believe it is acceptable,” she advised Reuters.

This month, a ladies’s rights group cancelled an indication on the final minute after a police spokesman mentioned some unspecified “violent teams” would possibly take part.

Political observers and a few Western diplomats are watching to see if authorities will permit a resumption of main demonstrations in Hong Kong, specifically on June 4 and July 1, that had been a mainstay of town’s as soon as vibrant civil society scene and attracted hundreds of individuals.

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