By 2 pm, hundreds of people had gathered in Causeway Bay and Times Square, eventually becoming thousands at the intersection with Hennessy Road. Some 4,000 police agents in riot gear with water cannons charge the crowd and arrest protesters.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Four thousand policemen in riot gear, a new security law, and a ban on public assemblies on "health" grounds have failed to stop thousands of Hong Kong citizens from participating in the traditional 1 July march.
The first march, on 1 July 2003, brought together 500,000 people against a security law proposed by the Hong Kong government
Today’s march is against a security law imposed by mainland China on Hong Kong starting at midnight.
For their part, protesters have “five demands, not one less,” including universal suffrage and an independent investigation into police brutality during the past year of protests.
By 2 pm, hundreds of people had gathered in Causeway Bay and Times Square, eventually becoming thousands at the intersection with Hennessy Road (picture 1).
Defiantly, many participants sang the hymn ‘Glory in Hong Kong,’ or shouted slogans on "Free Hong Kong, revolution of our time;” others called for Hong Kong's independence. Under the new law, the last two slogans are liable for arrest as "separatism".
In addition to warning signs on banned meetings, the police showed a new sign on violations of the security law, coloured purple (picture 2). It reads: “This is a police warning. You are displaying flags or banners, chanting slogans, or conducting yourselves with an intent such as secession or subversion, which may constitute offences under the HKSAR[*] National Security Law.”
In order to disperse the crowd, police used water cannons and tear gas, attacked protesters, and detained at least 70 people (by 4 pm).
The first person arrested displayed a small banner in favour of Hong Kong's independence, which is now a crime of opinion under the new law.
[*] Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.