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April 13, 2023
Police in Hong Kong allowed a small protest on Sunday, under the watchful eye of the police. This protest was the first one to take place since a national security law was passed in 2020.
Demonstrators were banned from wearing masks at the march, had to wear numbered lanyards and a maximum of 100 people were allowed to attend. They were protesting against a proposed land reclamation and rubbish processing project
Demonstrators chanted slogans against the reclamation project as they marched in the rain with banners in the eastern district of Tseung Kwan O, which is the area selected for the project.
Those on the protest also criticized the restrictions imposed on them, which were outlined in a 7-page letter sent to them by the police ahead of the protest.
“We need to have a more free-spirited protest culture,” said James Ockenden, 49, who was marching with his three children.
“But this is all pre-arranged and numbered and it just destroys the culture and will put people off from coming for sure.”
Police said their “no objection” letter was to ensure that no national security laws were broken.
“Some lawbreakers may mix into the public meeting and procession to disrupt public order or even engage in illegal violence,” the police said in their letter.
One protester surnamed Chiu, 50, sided with the police and said she was grateful to be able to protest “in difficult times”, and said she saw the lanyards as a way of controlling crowd movement.
“It doesn’t mean putting a leash on us to restrict our expression. I think it’s acceptable,” she told Reuters.
An application to hold a candlelight vigil on June 4th to remember the victims of China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 was turned down as authorities said it would breach social distancing laws.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: LUKE MOCHERMAN
PHOTO CREDIT: INQUIRER