Police arrested at least 62 people following protests which coincided with National Day, the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, on Thursday, October 1. A heavy police presence was reported across the Causeway Bay area, where protesters affiliated with the Civil Human Rights Front were scheduled to take part in a march that was banned on grounds of public safety and health. At least 40 people were detained near the Fashion Walk shopping center. Police also arrested two individuals who reportedly threw petrol bombs on Lung Cheung Road in Wong Tai Sin. Protesters also gathered near Great George Street in Causeway Bay and were ordered to disperse by police. Around 6000 police officers were deployed across Hong Kong in anticipation of unrest on Thursday.
A heightened security presence should be anticipated in the near term. Further associated demonstrations and clashes between security forces and protesters cannot be ruled out.
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 While the bill was withdrawn in September 2019, mass protests continue to be organized to demand government reforms and police accountability over violence since the start of the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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