Approximately 3000 additional police officers will be deployed across Hong Kong on Wednesday, May 27, ahead of a pro-democracy rally planned to take place outside the Legislative Council (Legco) in Central district.
Participants are expected to demonstrate by surrounding Legco when Hong Kong's legislature is due to give a second reading of a bill that would make it a crime to denigrate China's national anthem. Reports on social media outlets suggest that motorists are also being encouraged to stage a slow-drive protest along major roads on Hong Kong Island and the three-cross border tunnels in order to paralyze traffic and delay police reinforcement efforts between 06:30 and 11:30 (local time).
According to media sources, police forces on Monday, May 25, began strengthening security around the Legco; they have erected additional water-filled barriers and have riot police patrolling the area. Sources also suggest that security forces have stationed two water cannon at the government headquarters in Admiralty and near Beijing's liaison offices in Sai Ying Pun. Further, security forces will be placing tow-trucks on standby along major roads ahead of the demonstration, in order to prevent the slow-drive protest. Motorists found to be staging the protest will be hauled off the road and likely be fined and/or arrested.
Previous demonstration rallies have resulted in riot police firing tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters. A heightened security presence and transportation disruptions are to be expected in the vicinity of all protests in the territory.
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 While the bill was withdrawn on September 4, mass protests continue to be organized to demand government reforms and police accountability over violence since the start of the demonstrations. Pro-democracy candidates won 389 of the 452 seats in the territory's district council elections on November 24. The pro-democracy movement victory and the high turnout (71 percent) of the vote suggest that the public continues to support protests. Over 8000 people have been arrested since the protests began.
After a break in protests due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, demonstrations have increased in frequency since the relaxation of COVID-19 measures in late April. However, as of May 11, public gatherings of more than eight people remain forbidden due to the virus, which may inhibit protest activity.
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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