Hong Kong women’s march: Police stop activists from joining

Hong Kong –

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy group said on Sunday that national security police had stopped activists from attending a highly anticipated protest that was canceled at the last minute by organizers.

The Social Democratic League said police questioned four of its members on Friday and warned them not to participate in a march planned by the Hong Kong Women Workers Association.

“The Social Democratic League is very angry that it was threatened and obstructed by the National Security Police for participating in a legitimate protest. However, under such pressure it has decided to withdraw.” said the group.

Police said in an email to The Associated Press that any action would be taken “according to the actual situation and the law.”

The planned event was the first large-scale civil rights protest approved by police in three years and the first after major COVID-19 restrictions, including mask mandates, were lifted.

Large-scale protests have been rare under anti-virus control during the pandemic. Additionally, many activists have been silenced or imprisoned after China’s central government imposed sweeping national security laws in the wake of mass protests in 2019.

On Saturday night, the women’s association announced in a Facebook post that it had unfortunately decided to call off the march for labor, women’s rights and gender equality, but did not give a reason. It did not immediately respond to a call requesting comment.

Half an hour later, Deputy Superintendent Dennis Cheng said at a news briefing that the organizers had given notice that the march would be canceled after considering the pros and cons.

Asked during the annual session of China’s Rubber Stamp Capitol if police had told organizers to cancel the protest to avoid embarrassing Beijing, Cheng said police respected the organizers’ decision. and said he believed it struck a balance. He declined to comment further.

Cheng said some gangs wanted to join the protests and warned the public not to participate. He didn’t identify the group. Police’s letter of approval for the protest was subsequently ruled invalid, and officials warned that anyone attempting to hold a rally on Sunday would be deemed to have participated in an unauthorized rally.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, Premier Li Keqiang said China had made new progress in its work related to Hong Kong and exercised full jurisdiction over the southern city.

Critics say China has eroded the freedoms promised to Hong Kong’s political, social and financial institutions upon its 1997 handover from Britain.

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