Hundreds of thousands of people participated in a generally peaceful anti-government protest in Hong Kong on Sunday, August 18, demanding democratic reforms. The protest began in Victoria Park, with crowds of demonstrators obstructing traffic as they marched toward the city center, demanding the resignation of Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam. Some demonstrators reportedly shined laser pointers at police and at the People's Liberation Army (PLA) headquarters while gathering outside the building.
Lingering traffic disruptions are to be expected in Hong Kong over the coming hours. Similar protests are to be expected in Hong Kong over the near term amid a heightened security presence. Clashes between security personnel and demonstrators cannot be ruled out.
Protests and mass demonstrations of up to 2 million people have been held in Hong Kong since June 9, in opposition to a controversial bill that would allow authorities in 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 The bill has been suspended, though not fully withdrawn. Demonstrations have spread from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and the New Territories in recent weeks and have also become increasingly violent. 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. Activists have also accused the police of using unnecessary force in their attempts to disperse protesters.
Individuals in Hong Kong are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all demonstrations and accompanying clashes, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
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