Over a hundred police officers entered two malls in Mong Kok on Sunday, August 30, to disperse anti-government demonstrators who had gathered to mark the anniversary of a controversial crackdown on protests by police. While a proposed march from the malls to Prince Edward MTR station failed to materialize, dozens of protesters still gathered in the malls and began shouting slogans and playing anti-government songs. Police first entered the Moko mall at around 16:00 (local time) and ordered people to disperse, before then entering Langham Place at around 18:00. Police issued fines to 29 people for breaking coronavirus disease (COVID-19) social distancing rules, which prohibit gatherings of more than two people.
Further protests are likely throughout the territory over the near term and clashes between demonstrators and security forces cannot be ruled out.
Context On August 31, 2019, police and demonstrators clashed at Prince Edward MTR station in one of the most significant events of last year's anti-government protests. Police allegedly indiscriminately attacked and arrested people at the station, regardless of whether they were involved in acts of violence towards police. During the clashes 65 people were arrested and ten people were treated in hospital for injuries.
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 While the bill was withdrawn in September, mass protests continue to be organized to demand government reforms and police accountability over violence since the start of the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, there has 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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