04/23/2020, 13.25
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Hong Kong police: pandemic means no May 1 procession. June 4th Vigil also at risk

by Paul Wang

The measures to contain the epidemic are valid until 7 May: social distancing, ban on gatherings with more than four people, closure of entertainment venues such as bars, hairdressers, karaoke, etc. The pro-Beijing union FTU agrees with the police. The democratic union, CTU, says it can guarantee distances. Fears that the police will use coronavirus as an excuse to "ban" freedoms.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Hong Kong police have asked local unions to cancel the demonstrations scheduled for May 1 due to the coronavirus epidemic.

A police source, cited today by the SCMP, says that law enforcement agencies are trying to find legal ways to block the 4 June vigil in Victoria Park, which for over 20 years has been held in memory of those killed in Tiananmen Square in 1989. All in the name of defending public health.

Laws were introduced in the territory to curb the spread of the disease at the end of March, including the requirement of social distancing, a ban on gatherings with more than four people, the closure of entertainment venues such as bars, hairdressers, karaoke, etc.

These measures are valid until 7 May. At the request of the police, the pro-Beijing Union of Trade Unions (FTU) immediately agreed; the pro-democracy union, the most numerous (CTU, Confederation of Trade Unions), on the other hand, insists on maintaining the march, guaranteeing the safety distances provided for by law. Police have threatened that if CTU takes to the street, it will be accused of illegally gathering and violation of health regulations.

CTU secretary general Lee Cheuk-yan called the police demand for the cancellation of the demonstration "absurd." ". We can ask people to march in groups of four, with each [group] keeping 1.5 metres (4.9 feet) away," he added.

Many in Hong Kong fear that the pandemic will be exploited to further erode the already meager areas of freedom will be after almost a year of democratic demonstrations against the extradition law.

The Victoria Park Vigil, which remains the only demonstration in the Chinese world to commemorate the killed in Tiananmen, is also at risk.

Richard Tsoi, one of the organizers, said it will run as usual. The request to the police will be lodged in mid-May. " I hope the police will not use the coronavirus epidemic as an excuse to ban us.”

In recent days, the police have arrested 15 high profile democratic figures accused of "organizing and participating in illegal assemblies". They include Lee Cheuk-yan and Richard Tsoi, who have been released on bail.

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