Riot police officers attempted to forcibly disperse protesters from the Yuen Long train station (Hong Kong) with tear gas and pepper spray on the night (local time) of Saturday, July 27, briefly clashing with protesters before retreating. Protesters have vowed to remain until police, who have surrounded the station, leave the area. The clashes came after hours-long protests in Hong Kong's northern Yuen Long district to denounce an assault by men armed with metal bars and sticks on Sunday, July 21, that left at least 45 people wounded.
Earlier on Saturday, demonstrators marched in Yuen Long despite the police's ban on protest activity in the area. Some protesters reportedly hurled bottles and rocks at police who, in turn, fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and crowd-controlling sponge grenades to disperse demonstrators. Demonstrators also erected improvised barricades and roadblocks in the area.
Police officials have rejected applications for one of two demonstrations planned on Sunday, July 28. Activists will be allowed to organize a rally in Chater Garden in Central but it must end by 23:00. The second demonstration was set to be held at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park in Sheung Wan with protesters marching to Chater Garden; however, police officials banned it under the auspices of maintaining public safety.
Additional protests are planned over the coming weeks. Demonstrations are expected to be held in western Hong Kong Island and Tseung Kwan O on August 4, Wong Tai Sin and Tai Po on August 10, Sham Shui Po and eastern Hong Kong Island on August 11, Hung Hom and To Kwa Wan on August 17, and Tsuen Wan and Kwai Tsing on August 18. A heightened security presence and transportation and business disruptions are to be expected near demonstration sites.
Protests and mass demonstrations of up to 2 million people have been held since June 9 in opposition to a controversial bill that would allow Hong Kong to extradite fugitives wanted in mainland China and other territories. Opponents claim the law would erode freedoms and be used to silence dissent and criticism. The bill has been suspended, though not fully withdrawn.
Protests have spread from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and the New Territories in recent weeks and have also become increasingly violent. On July 14, clashes between police and protesters in a Sha Tin shopping mall left 22 people hospitalized. On July 21, a group of pro-government men armed with bars and sticks attacked protesters and commuters in Yuen Long, leaving 45 people injured.
Individuals in Hong Kong are advised to monitor the situation, anticipate a heightened security presence, avoid all public gatherings due to the risk of violence and arrest, refrain from discussing political subjects in public or on social media, remain vigilant for criminal and violent behavior, particularly during scheduled protest days and even in areas away from protest sites, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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