Hong Kong residents protesting China’s new national security law found themselves arrested for unlawful assembly after fights broke out. Yesterday’s protest was largely supposed to be silent but ended with armed riot police arresting 53 people and using pepper spray on parts of the crowd after chanting and slogans were shouted towards them.
Such arrests may be an indication of the future protest landscape in Hong Kong, according to critics of the new law which the government says only targets those with extremist views. However, many people aren’t buying the law’s reasoning as they say it could further erode Hong Kong’s autonomy which was promised by the mainland when Britain handed the territory back in 1997.
“The governments wants to shut us up and to kick us out,” according to 44 year old protester Roy Chan.
“We must stand up and strike down all those people who deprive Hong Kong people’s freedom.”
The protesters were charged with unlawful assembly as police refused to allow the annual march that is normally held on July 1 to mark the 1997 handover of Hong Kong. The reasoning for the refusal was due to the ban on large gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic, but critics say the real reason is due to the recent law causing many to call out the government for potentially squashing their freedoms.
The law, according to Chinese officials, is supposed to only target a small group of people who display separatism, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong.
Chinese state media reported that lawmakers almost “overwhelmingly supported the draft”. The Chinese government has “unshakable determination to push ahead with enactment of the security bill and safeguard national sovereignty and interest,” state broadcaster CCTV reported, citing a government spokesperson.
The news comes after a vlogger had to delete the video of a local artist mocking the national anthem over fears that the documentary would not be allowed to air in Hong Kong. The decision not to air the material in the documentary came after China imposed a law that banned using the national anthem in a derogatory way, or in other words, mocking or changing the words in the song.
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