Hong Kong residents hold first protest in years under new rules
Hong Kong police have permitted a small protest march under tight restrictions in one of the first demonstrations to be approved since the enactment of a sweeping national security law in 2020.
Several dozen demonstrators on Sunday were required to wear numbered lanyards and were barred from wearing masks, as police monitored their march against a proposed land reclamation and rubbish processing project.
Participants chanted slogans against the reclamation project as they marched in the rain with banners in the eastern district of Tseung Kwan O, where the project is slated to be built.
Some criticised the restrictions on their protest, which included limiting the number of participants to 100, according to a seven-page letter from the police to organisers, seen by Reuters.
“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.”
Responding to the protest, the city’s Development Bureau said the project was intended to “support the daily needs of the community”.
It said it would “respect the right to freedom of expression” and would study the possibility of reducing the scale of the land reclamation.
Police granted the organisers a “no objection” letter on the condition that they ensured the protest would not violate national security laws, including seditious displays or speech.
“Some lawbreakers may mix into the public meeting and procession to disrupt public order or even engage in illegal violence,” the police warned in their letter.
Organisers said up to 50 people took part in the first protest to be authorised by the city’s police in several years.