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Monday, February 26, 2024

Hong Kongers maintain first protest in years underneath strict guidelines

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HONG KONG — Dozens of individuals on Sunday joined Hong Kong’s first approved demonstration in opposition to the federal government for the reason that lifting of main COVID-19 restrictions underneath unprecedentedly strict guidelines, together with sporting a numbered badge round their necks.

The foundations set out by the police, who cited safety causes, got here because the monetary hub was selling its return to normalcy after years of anti-virus controls and political turmoil.

In the course of the pandemic, protests have been uncommon because of COVID-19 restrictions. As well as, many activists have been silenced or jailed after Beijing imposed a nationwide safety legislation following large protests in 2019. Critics say the town’s freedom of meeting has been eroded.

Sunday’s demonstration in opposition to the proposed reclamation and building of rubbish-processing services was the primary police-approved march of its variety after the town scrapped its masks mandate and social distancing limits.

However organizers needed to adjust to police necessities akin to taking measures to make sure the variety of members wouldn’t exceed the anticipated turnout of 100 folks and asking for proof of a “affordable excuse” from protesters who wore masks through the occasion. On the top of the 2019 anti-government motion, Hong Kong’s authorities invoked emergency powers to ban masks from public gatherings.

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On Sunday, about 60 folks expressed their opposition to the plans in Tseung Kwan O, a residential and industrial thought, and needed to stroll in a cordoned-off shifting line within the rain amid heavy police presence.

Resident Theresa Wang, 70, described the brand new restrictions as “a bit bizarre” however mentioned they have been nonetheless acceptable as a result of the town was adjusting to “the brand new Hong Kong.”

“I’m not pleased however we’ve got to simply accept it. We have now to simply accept what’s deemed authorized now,” the retiree mentioned, including that she hoped the protest could be an indication the federal government is extra open to dialogue.

Jack Wong, 69, mentioned he would favor to not put on the badge printed with a quantity. Police mentioned earlier the requirement goals to stop lawbreakers from becoming a member of the march.

“But when it’s a requirement, what can I say? I choose to not remark additional. You understand what I imply,” the retiree mentioned.

In granting its approval, police additionally requested that organizers guarantee there wouldn’t be any acts that may endanger nationwide safety, together with displaying something seditious.

Cyrus Chan, one of many march organizers, mentioned demonstrators had communicated with police on their promotional supplies and slogans. Officers earlier had instructed him that members mustn’t put on all black outfits, he mentioned. Protesters generally wore black within the 2019 motion.

“It is undoubtedly strict,” Chan mentioned. “We hope that is simply a person case. We hope to indicate them that Hong Kong society has the flexibility to have peaceable marches and they don’t have to set that many circumstances to limit us.”

Earlier this month, the Hong Kong Ladies Employees’ Affiliation deliberate a march to name for labor and ladies’s rights however canceled it on the final second with out specifying why.

Days later, the affiliation mentioned on its Facebook web page that police had invited it for additional conferences after granting it the approval and that it had tried its greatest to amend the settlement. But it surely nonetheless couldn’t launch the protest because it had wished, it wrote at the moment.

A professional-democracy group individually mentioned nationwide safety police had warned 4 of its members to not take part within the affiliation’s march.


Related Press photographer Louise Delmotte contributed to this report.

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