09/07/2020, 10.20
HONG KONG - CHINA
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Mong Kok, nearly 300 arrests on cancelled election day

by Paul Wang

More than 2,000 police in riot gear blocked journalists, dispersed demonstrators, attacked groups, fired bullets and pepper spray. Three members of the League of Social Democrats were also arrested: Leung Kwok-hung, Raphael Wong and Figo Chan. The government is accused of using the pandemic as a pretext to keep people from voting and avoiding a defeat. Solidarity with Thai and Belarusian youth.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Hong Kong police have arrested 289 people in the Mong Kong and Yaumatei areas, who were demonstrating against the government's decision to postpone the legislative elections that should have been held yesterday.

Thousands of riot police in different areas of the city blocked reporters, dispersed demonstrators, attacked groups, fired bullets and pepper spray. Thanks to the new security law and anti-Covid directives that prohibit gatherings of more than two people, the police have arrested a woman who shouted pro-independence slogans; 270 for illegal gathering and others for assaulting the police or for violating anti-Covid rules.

The League of Social Democrats said three of its most prominent members - Leung Kwok-hung, Raphael Wong and Figo Chan - were arrested by police near the Eaton Hotel in the Jordan neighbourhood. Leung Kwok-hung, with other demonstrators shouted slogans such as: “I want my right to vote! Shame [on the government] for postponing the elections”.

Many groups critical of the government accuse it of using the pandemic as a pretext to stop people from voting to avoid a defeat. The opposition expected to obtain a large majority in the Legco (the Hong Kong parliament), given that many citizens are furious at Beijing, which has imposed a security law that restricts and stifles freedoms in the territory. In the district elections a few months ago, Democratic groups won over 17 out of 18 districts.

The demonstrations were organised via social media alerts, which led to thousands of policemen deploying along many streets in the centre. The participation of 50 thousand people was expected but the turnout was far lower. Interviewed by Hkfp, a young man said that this year it is more difficult to hold demonstrations, due to the law on national security; "The police and the government are suppressing people more and more, so I think the protest will change shape, like going online."

Hong Kong's young people feel close to young people from other nations, who are also engaged in a struggle for freedom against an oppressive power. Here and there were signs reading "Support Hong Kong, Thailand and Belarus". A young man commented: We are victims of oppression ... I often think that when Thais and Belarusians see this sign, they will know that we want to support them and be with them."

A government spokesman denounced the demonstrators' actions, accusing them of being outlaws and selfish because they promote the independence of the territory and violate anti-Covid rules, putting the city at risk of infection.

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