HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hundreds of Hong Kong people marched silently through the streets of the city on Sunday in protest of impending national security legislation to be implemented by the Chinese mainland government.
FILE PHOTO: A pro-democracy protester waves a pro-independence banner during a protest at the New Town Plaza shopping center in Sha Tin in Hong Kong, China on June 12, 2020. REUTERS / Laurel Chor
Riot police armed with shields were present when the crowd moved from Jordan to Mong Kok in the Kowloon district, as part of a “silent protest”, in which they marched with the customary chant or slogan that was mainly shouting absent.
The outbreaks erupted in Mong Kok during the event, prompting police to use pepper spray to subdue parts of the crowd, according to a Reuters witness.
The proposed national security laws were reviewed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Sunday, according to a report by the state media Xinhua.
The laws are expected to pass before the end of June, but a draft has not yet been released.
“I am here to oppose national security laws,” said Esther, 25, who was on the streets of Jordan on Sunday.
“It is not the last battle, there is long-term resistance (to the laws),” he said, and declined to give his last name.
The event came a day after Hong Kong police rejected permission for an annual march that is usually held on July 1 to mark the transfer of the city of Great Britain to Chinese authorities 23 years ago.
Police said in a statement to the organizer that a march would violate Hong Kong’s current ban on gatherings of more than 50 people that was established as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
A survey by the Hong Kong Institute of Public Opinion Research for Reuters showed that most people in the financial center oppose national security legislation.
The poll also showed that support for the protests dropped to 51% from 58% in June compared to a previous poll by Reuters in March. Opposition to them increased to 34% from 28%.
Report by Scott Murdoch; Additional reports Jessie Pang, Tyrone Siu and Joyce Zhou; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Tom Hogue