Hong Kong police allowed activists to take out a small protest march under tight restrictions on Sunday. This is the first time since the implementation of the sweeping national security law in 2020 a protest has been allowed.
However, the demonstrators were told to wear numbered lanyards and barred from wearing masks. News agency Reuters reported that police gave a seven letter no-objection letter underlining the requirements and also monitored their march.
The news agency said that the protestors were marching against a proposed land reclamation and rubbish processing project.
The protest took place in the eastern district of Tseung Kwan O, where the project is being built. They marched with banners and chanted slogans against the reclamation project.
The letter mentioned that only 100 participants can join the protest. “We need to have a more free-spirited protest culture,” 49-year-old James Ockenden, who was marching with his three children, was quoted as saying by news agency Reuters.
“But this is all pre-arranged and numbered and it just destroys the culture and will put people off from coming for sure,” Ockenden further said.
Hong Kong police on Sunday permitted a small protest march under tight restrictions in one of the first demonstrations to be approved since the lifting of covid restrictions and the enactment of a sweeping national security law in 2020. pic.twitter.com/JMb0wFXZIv— Jessie Pang (@JessiePang0125) March 26, 2023
The Hong Kong Development Bureau, against whom the protest was aimed at, said their land reclamation project is aimed at supporting “daily needs of the community”.
It also said that “right to freedom of expression” will be respected by the organisation and studies will be conducted to look for possibilities of reducing the scale of the land reclamation.
The letter also directed protesters to refrain from violating national security laws, including seditious displays or speech.
The police warned against lawbreakers mixing with the protesters and disrupting “public order or even engaging in illegal violence”.
The organisers said at least 80 people joined Sunday’s protest.
Authorities have denied permission to hold a candlelight vigil on June 4 to commemorate the victims of China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 and have also declined applications for other protests.
Authorities have clamped down on freedoms and arrested scores of opposition politicians and activists after China imposed the national security law, enacted in June 2020.
The law was enacted to quell the protracted pro-democracy protests in 2019 despite Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, guaranteeing the right to peaceful assembly.
One protester told Reuters that she found the lanyards - a type of strap or cord with a hook for holding ID cards - not as a leash and acceptable and a means to facilitate crowd control.
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