(Hong Kong) The first demonstration in about two years against a Hong Kong government measure took place on Sunday under strict terms, such as limiting the number of participants and compulsory wearing of an identification badge.
Beijing imposed a national security law in the Chinese metropolis in 2020 to end the pro-democracy protests that rocked Hong Kong and silence dissent. Few public protests have since taken place against local government policy due to the crackdown and COVID-19 social distancing measures.
The purpose of the demonstration on Sunday was to oppose a landfill project in the east of the territory. It is the first to have obtained official authorization since the lifting of health measures.
The police, however, forced the organizers to respect draconian conditions: among them, the limitation of the number of participants to 100 people and the wearing of a numbered identification badge. The security forces surrounded the crowd with a cordon and separated journalists and protesters.
Officers scanned banners and signs for “politically sensitive and seditious words”, said Cyrus Chan, who was organizing the protest.
“Ridiculous” modalities, estimated one of the approximately 80 participants.
“It’s bullying…but what can we do?” “, declared to AFP the retiree of the public service who wished to remain anonymous.
“Today, even the simple act of taking a breath of fresh air can threaten national security. »
Asked by AFP about these arrangements, police said they carry out a “thorough” risk assessment of public events based on their “motive, nature, number of attendees, past experience and recent developments.” “.
Eric Lai, of the Center for Asian Law at Georgetown University, described to AFP as “disproportionate” the counting and identification of protesters, unheard of in previous protests authorized by Hong Kong police.
Large-scale public events – from music festivals to art fairs – have taken place in Hong Kong since the lifting of health measures. Local authorities ensure that residents still enjoy freedom of expression and assembly.
In March, a women’s rights group called off a protest – which would have been Hong Kong’s first civil rights protest in years – after the organizers were repeatedly summoned by the police.