Hong Kong police ban National Day protest, citing Covid-19 and threat of ‘violent acts’

©Hong Kong Free Press

Hong Kong police have rejected an application to hold a pro-democracy march on China’s National Day next Thursday, citing coronavirus public gathering restrictions and the threat of “violent acts.”

The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) – a coalition of advocacy groups – proposed to march from East Point Road in Causeway Bay to Chater Road in Central on October 1, coinciding with the Mid-Autumn Festival. The force issued the letter of objection on Friday.

Crowds protest on October 1, 2019. Photo: Studio Incendo.

Police said public gatherings of more than four people were not allowed under current government coronavirus social distancing rules, set to expire next Friday.

The force said it had reason to believe the march would increase the risk of contracting the virus among participants: “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 letter of objection read.

It also mentioned past events organised by the CHRF that descended into violence, as some protesters blocked roads and hurled bricks as well as petrol bombs.

The force said the proposed route was close to “high-risk buildings,” including the police headquarters, the High Court and various MTR stations.

“Based on the fact that the social atmosphere is still unstable, after careful assessment, police believe some participants of the public procession would very likely deviate from the proposed route and violently damage the high-risk buildings listed above.”

“This may pose a severe threat to the personal safety of other participants, citizens, journalists and police officers.”

Citywide clashes broke out on October 1 last year as protesters marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. In Tsuen Wan, a police officer shot an 18-year-old protester with a live round during a physical altercation.

Under the Beijing-enacted national security law, vandalising transportation and other public facilities may be considered terrorist acts in Hong Kong.

The CHRF announced on Facebook that it will appeal against the decision.

The objectives of the march were “to remember all protesters oppressed by authorities, reiterate the five [protest] demands, request the release of 12 protesters detained by China,” the organiser previously wrote on Facebook.