Several protest actions were carried out on the morning (local time) of Wednesday, May 27, ahead of the second reading of a bill that would make it a crime to denigrate China's national anthem. Hundreds of police officers have been deployed around the Legislative Council (Legco) in Central, blocking road access to the area. According to local media reports, hundreds of protesters have gathered in Hysan Place (Causeway Bay) to chant slogans instead of surrounding the Legco due to the heightened police presence. As of approximately 12:00, one main entrance to Hysan Place has been closed and police officers are stopping and searching individuals as they leave the area.
Hong Kong police officials reported that multiple roadblocks were cleared around 07:30, after individuals attempted to disrupt traffic with nails and other debris. Some drivers were also fined for intentionally slowing down traffic in the Cross Harbor Tunnel around 08:30. According to police officials, at least 16 people have been arrested, including five individuals allegedly carrying petrol bombs.
Further rallies are possible over the coming hours in Central, Causeway Bay, and Admiralty areas of downtown Hong Kong. While the demonstrations have so far been peaceful, previous protests have resulted in riot police firing tear gas and water cannon to disperse crowds. 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 While the bill was withdrawn on September 4, mass protests continue to be organized to demand government reforms and police accountability over violence since the start of the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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