Hong Kong police have reportedly arrested multiple protesters taking part in a silent demonstration at APM Mall in Kowloon's Kwun Tong on Monday, July 6. According to reports on social media outlets, by approximately 21:00 (local time) at least 13 people had been arrested. Dozens of participants gathered from 18:00 holding blank sheets of paper amid a clampdown on anti-government sentiment in Hong Kong. Riot police were deployed to the mall and cordoned off areas to disperse the demonstration taking place despite the new national security law. Reports suggest that this was the second protest of the day in Hong Kong, the first taking place at the International Finance Center (IFC) in Central district. There have been no immediate reports of arrests or clashes at the earlier demonstration.
Further protests are likely to occur in the near and medium term and a heightened security presence should be anticipated across the territory.
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 While the bill was withdrawn in September, mass protests continue to be organized to demand government reforms and police accountability over violence since the start of the demonstrations.
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 the controversial new security law in May 2020. The law came into effect on the evening of June 30; under the new legislation, individuals can be arrested for being directly or indirectly involved in secession, subversion, terrorist activities, or collusion with a foreign country or other external elements that could endanger national security. The maximum sentence for violating the law is life imprisonment. A new Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People's Government will also be set up in Hong Kong to assist in dealing with national security issues. Under certain conditions, the new Office will be allowed to prosecute individuals under mainland Chinese law.
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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