Thousands of riot police officers deployed across Hong Kong on Thursday, May 28, ahead of an anticipated second day of protests against proposed national security legislation currently before the Legislative Council (Legco). As on Wednesday, May 27, police reportedly deployed around key Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations, as well as around the Legco complex in the Admiralty area of the Central District. However, there were no immediate reports of significant unrest or crowd dispersal operations.
Thursday's policing operation comes a day after at least 360 protesters were arrested in clashes with police in various areas of the city as activists held demonstrations against the proposed national security legislation and a controversial bill that would make it a crime to denigrate the Chinese national anthem. Police used peppers pellets to disperse gatherings in some areas, but their pre-emptive deployment at MTR stations and protest sites meant that the demonstrations were smaller than planned.
Further protests across the territory are possible in the coming hours and days and may result in confrontations with security forces. A heightened security presence and transportation disruptions are to be expected in the vicinity of all protests.
Demonstrations have been held throughout Hong Kong since June 2019 to protest a controversial extradition bill, which would have allowed authorities in Hong Kong to extradite fugitives wanted in mainland China and other territories. While the bill was withdrawn on September 4, mass protests continue to be organized to demand government reforms and police accountability over violence since the start of the demonstrations. 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 percent) of the vote suggest that the public continues to support protests.
After a break in protests due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, demonstrations have increased in frequency since the relaxation of COVID-19 measures in late April. There has also been an uptick in protest activity since Beijing prosed introducing a security law in May 2020 that would ban treason, secession, sedition, and subversion. However, as of May 28, public gatherings of more than eight people remain forbidden due to the virus.
Individuals in Hong Kong are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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