Thousands of protesters gathered in Chater Garden (Central) on Sunday, January 19, to call for a boycott of the Chinese Communist Party and demand electoral reforms. Protesters spilled into streets in the area, using umbrellas and street furniture to barricade roads. Police fired tear gas to disperse crowds after some protesters reportedly attacked plainclothes officers. Two police officers were wounded and several protesters, including the demonstration's organizer, were reportedly arrested. A heightened security presence and residual transportation disruptions are expected in Central over the coming hours.
A heightened security presence along with localized transportation and business disruptions are anticipated near all demonstration sites. Further protests may be organized with little warning over the near term. Clashes between protesters and police cannot be ruled out.
Pro-democracy candidates won 389 of the 452 seats in the territory's district council elections on November 24. The pro-democracy movement victory and the high turnout (71%) of the vote suggest that the public continues to support protests, although tensions have significantly escalated across Hong Kong since November 11, after a police officer shot a protester in Sai Wan Ho.
On September 4, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill, which would have allowed authorities in Hong Kong to extradite fugitives wanted in mainland China and other territories. The bill sparked mass protests of up to 2 million people throughout Hong Kong since June 9. However, protest actions have continued since the government's announcement, as protester demands evolved into a wider pro-democracy movement, calling for government reforms and police accountability over violence.
Demonstrations have spread from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and the New Territories and have also become increasingly violent. Activists have also accused the police of using unnecessary force in their attempts to disperse protesters.
Individuals in Hong Kong are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests and demonstrations, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business around protest sites, confirm the status of their flights prior to departure for the airport, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
Individuals are also advised to avoid wearing black and white colors around protest zones or rallies as they are associated with protesters.
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