HK marchers ready to defy ban on Sunday

HK marchers ready to defy ban on Sunday

Protesters keep up pressure on Lam, who defends police response

A combination photo shows masks worn by protesters during marches in Hong Kong Friday. Another march is planned for Sunday. Winnie the Pooh, Guy Fawkes and other characters have come out in force in defiance of a government ban on face coverings at public gatherings. (AP Photo)
A combination photo shows masks worn by protesters during marches in Hong Kong Friday. Another march is planned for Sunday. Winnie the Pooh, Guy Fawkes and other characters have come out in force in defiance of a government ban on face coverings at public gatherings. (AP Photo)

HONG KONG: Hong Kong protest organisers say they intend to stage a march through Kowloon on Sunday despite losing an appeal against a police ban on the procession.

The Appeal Board on Public Meetings and Processions on Saturday supported the police’s refusal to approve the march because of the potential for violence, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) reported.

The rally was originally called to protest against a government ban on masks and comes after a violent attack on Wednesday on Civil Human Rights Front organiser Jimmy Sham by hammer-wielding thugs in Mong Kok.

Protesters are seeking to keep up the pressure on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam with a 20th straight weekend of demonstrations. Earlier this week, Lam was twice shouted down in the city’s legislature by opposition lawmakers as she attempted to deliver her annual policy address.

The protests began in opposition to a since-scrapped bill allowing extraditions to mainland China and have expanded to include calls for greater democracy and an independent inquiry into police behaviour. The unrest has turned increasingly violent, with frequent clashes between protesters and police.

Civil Human Rights Front convener Figo Chan said he would lead a march on Sunday along the route originally planned and would be joined by other prominent pro-democracy activists including Leung Kwok-hung, Albert Ho and Cyd Ho, RTHK reported.

Demonstrators had planned to walk from Tsim Sha Tsui to the express rail terminus in West Kowloon before the police banned the march. The protesters could face arrest, but all of the city’s protests have had to deal with risks, whether they received police permission or not, RTHK cited Chan as saying.

On Friday night protesters formed human chains citywide, with everyone covering their faces in some way in defiance of the mask ban. People masqueraded as Disney characters, animals and super heroes, but the most popular mask was one of China President Xi Jinping. In Tsim Sha Tsui a long line of protesters linked hands, all wearing a facade of Xi’s smiling face.

In another development, Lam said she would consider reorganising the city’s Executive Council, its de facto cabinet, but would wait until protests had ended.

The beleaguered leader also said on an RTHK radio programme that she doesn’t “blindly” support the actions of each police officer but fully supports the force in enforcing the law. She urged people to wait for a report from Independent Police Complaints Council into the recent clashes.

Lam again rejected calls for an independent inquiry into police brutality, the latest coming from Rocky Tuan, the vice-chancellor of Chinese University.

Meanwhile, the man whose criminal case was raised in government arguments for the extradition bill has indicated he wants to surrender to Taiwanese authorities.

Lam received a letter on Friday from Chan Tong-kai, a Hong Kong man who has been accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend during a Valentine’s Day trip to Taiwan, saying he had decided to surrender himself to Taiwan, according to a statement on the Hong Kong government website.

Chan, who is currently serving a prison sentence for money laundering in a Hong Kong jail, “requested the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to assist him in making the relevant arrangement”, according to the statement.

The newspaper Sing Tao Daily reported earlier, citing a person it didn’t identify, that Chan made the decision after consulting with a pastor.


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