Pro-democracy activists are expected to stage protests in Hong Kong on Thursday, October 1, to coincide with China's National Day celebrations. A march planned by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) to be held between the city's Causeway Bay and Central districts on Thursday has been banned by police citing a high risk of unrest and coronavirus disease (COVID-19) public gathering restrictions. However, activist groups are likely to attempt to hold smaller protests in other public areas in the city, as well as outside government offices.
Under the territory's COVID-19 restrictions, public gatherings are currently limited to a maximum of four people, with the measure having recently been extended until at least October 1.
A heightened police presence is likely throughout Hong Kong on Thursday, with officers expected to contain and disperse any demonstrations, and some roads may be closed. Localized transport and business disruptions are also likely in the vicinity of any 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 While the bill was withdrawn in September 2019, mass protests continue to be organized to demand government reforms and police accountability over violence since the start of the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 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 introduced the controversial new security law in June 2020. 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.
Those in Hong Kong are advised to monitor developments, avoid demonstrations and protests as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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