Hong Kong Denies Approval for Protest on China’s National Day

A Hong Kong appeals panel upheld a police ban on a mass protest planned for Thursday, leaving demonstrators the choice between staying home or risking arrest.

The Hong Kong Appeal Board on Public Meetings and Processions rejected plans for a march through Hong Kong to mark China’s National Day, a police representative said in a media briefing late Monday. The march was planned by Civil Human Rights Front which has organized some of the city’s largest-ever protests, including peaceful gatherings against extradition legislation last year that attracted more than a million people and helped lead to the proposal’s ultimate withdrawal.

Hong Kong authorities have repeatedly rejected applications for protests since advancing a sweeping national security law that criminalized many tactics used by protesters during a historic wave of unrest last year. The city’s Beijing-backed chief executive, Carrie Lam, has said that residents still enjoy the freedom of assembly guaranteed them before the former British colony’s return to China in 1997.

Some activists had urged supporters in Telegram chat groups to turn out for a “non assembly” despite the ban. The demonstration from Causeway Bay to central Hong Kong was intended to express support for 12 local democracy activists who have been held without charge across the mainland border since getting caught attempting to flee to Taiwan in August.

The Oct. 1 holiday saw some of the most intense protests during the unrest that swept the Asian financial hub last year, with tens of thousands turning out on the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule in Beijing. The demonstrations started out peaceful but quickly turned violent, with police shooting a protester during one clash.

Police planned to deploy more than 3,000 riot officers in preparation for any protests, the local news site HK01reported Sunday. Those who protest in violation of a police ban risk penalties not only for flouting outbreak-control measures, but also participating in an illegal or unauthorized assembly, or in some cases, rioting.

Police cited the threat of “violent acts,” as well as social-distancing regulations, while rejecting CHRF’s application last week. “It will also be a major threat to the life and health of the general public, endangering public health and the rights of others,” the police said.

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