At least 300 people have been arrested in Hong Kong on Wednesday during a mass demonstration to protest the entry into force of the new national security law which punishes with imprisonment any act of secession from semi-autonomous territory. In fact, nine of the detainees have been arrested for violating the law. One of them carried a flag with a slogan that read, “Hong Kong Independence.”
Authorities had banned for the first time in 17 years the government demonstration held there every July 1 after the United Kingdom returned Hong Kong sovereignty to China in 1997, on the condition that in theory a number of rights were respected. for 50 years under the agreement known as “one country, two systems.” Authorities had vetoed the protest alluding to the health emergency due to the coronavirus, which restricts meetings of more than 50 people in the semi-autonomous territory.
To this end, some 4,000 agents have been deployed in the city and the main streets have been cordoned off. Despite this, thousands of people have come out to protest. Police have issued several statements to remind that the march was not authorized, but to no avail. Then officers began to charge: they used trucks with water cannons to disperse the protesters and fired tear gas. For their part, some protesters have set up barricades and, in some cases, set them on fire.
Officers have been given permission to detain anyone carrying flags or banners with slogans related to the city’s independence or liberation, which have been outlawed by China’s new security law, the newspaper reported. South China Morning. In fact, with the new legislation, protesting and carrying secessionist symbols can mean a sentence of 3 to 10 years in prison, or even life imprisonment. The new rule also allows for the extradition of detainees to mainland China.
Breach of the new law
The first arrest based on the new legislation took place at 1.30pm local time: “A man has been arrested for holding a Hong Kong pro-independence flag (…), in violation of national security law. It is the first arrest made since the law came into force, “the police said. A woman was later arrested for carrying a banner that read “Hong Kong Independence”, and flags for the United Kingdom and the United States. Police also reported that one of his officers was injured by a protester, who stabbed him with a sharp object in the shoulder when he was trying to stop another person.
Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. In fact, officers carried a purple banner that read, “They are displaying flags or banners, shouting slogans and behaving with an intent to secede or subversion, which could result in crimes under Hong Kong’s national security law. They could be arrested and prosecuted. ”
China imposes anti-secession law on Hong Kong
Despite repeated warnings, protesters have chanted chants saying “Hong Kong’s independence, the only way out,” “Hong Kongers, build our nation,” or “one nation, one Hong Kong.” Even a group of elderly people have distributed leaflets in protest with the message “Heaven will destroy the Chinese Communist Party.” “This year, people have come up with a clearer goal than ever: we want independence,” a 25-year-old man told Efe. Asked if he was afraid of the new law, he replied: “I am not afraid of the police, nor of the Chinese Communist Party.” In contrast, other people did not see it the same way. A 70-year-old woman who was passing through the protest area said: “The protesters are crazy. They only cause problems and they are not patriots.”
Since June 2019, thousands of Hong Kongers have faced China’s authoritarianism. Beijing argues that the new legislation will strengthen the “one country, two systems” model. Amnesty International, for its part, defines it as “the worst threat to human rights in the city’s recent history.” Democrats see it as the end of both systems because the law ends the civil rights of the population.