Riot police fired pepper spray at protesters gathered to rally in Mong Kok on Thursday, June 4. Thousands of demonstrators gathered across Hong Kong on Thursday to mark the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. The main rally was organized in Victoria Park (Causeway Bay) and had been banned by the Hong Kong Police Force on Monday, June 1, citing a ban on gatherings of more than eight people due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. In Victoria Park, participants gathered in the evening (local time) to light candles individually and observe a minute of silence. Additional protests were reported in Mong Kok and Sai Ying Pun. Scuffles broke out after the protesters attempted to erect roadblocks utilizing metal barriers and at least one protester has been arrested. The demonstration comes on the day the Hong Kong Legislative Council passed a controversial law criminalising the mockery of China's national anthem. The bill has triggered multiple pro-democracy demonstrations in recent months.
Further demonstrations and associated unrest and disruptions are likely in Hong Kong over the near term.
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 While the bill was withdrawn on September 4, mass protests continue to be organized to demand government reforms and police accountability over violence since the start of the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 proposed 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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