Hong Kong police have banned the annual July 01 march in Hong Kong as pro-democracy activists planned to protest against the imposition by Beijing of a new national security law for the territory.
The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), organiser of the July 01 march, and responsible for some of last year’s unprecedented million-people demonstrations, said the police had rejected its applications for the rallies.
The group said it would appeal against the decision and would not withdraw its earlier calls for people to march to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to China.
Police cited a risk of violence and said the gatherings and march would “pose a severe threat to public health” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The semi-autonomous city has been convulsed by a year of huge and often violent rallies that began with an eventually aborted criminal extradition bill but morphed into a popular call for democracy and police accountability.
In May, Beijing announced a draft national security law – which will bypass Hong Kong’s legislature – to tackle “terrorism” and “separatism” in a restless city it now regards as a direct national security threat.
The law would enforce punishment for subversion and other offences in Hong Kong, but critics see it as potential knockout blow for freedoms and autonomy enjoyed by the city.
US President Donald Trump’s administration said on Friday it was restricting visas for a number of Chinese officials for infringing on the autonomy of Hong Kong, as Congress seeks tougher sanctions.
The Chinese embassy in Washington said “no one has any legal grounds or right to make irresponsible comments on Hong Kong affairs”.
The European Union also warned China it would face “very negative consequences” if it pressed ahead with the new law.
The law is expected to be voted on during a National People’s Congress Standing Committee meeting to be held from Sunday to Tuesday. (Source: CNA)