Hong Kong Riot Police dispersed dozens of protesters gathered on Sunday, July 19, in Yuen Long (New Territories) to commemorate the anniversary of a violent attack on anti-government demonstrators which occurred at the Yuen Long railway station on July 21, 2019. Media sources suggest that approximately 100 riot police officers were deployed to the demonstration on Sunday and fired pepper spray at the activists. Participants gathered at 15:00 (local time) at Yuen Long MTR station and then proceeded to YOHO shopping center. Reports indicate that as the demonstration continued into the evening with several protesters marching towards Long Ping MTR station. Police arrested at least four people for unlawful assembly and reports indicate that multiple others were fined for breaking social-distancing regulations.
A demonstration has been planned in Yuen Long on Tuesday, July 21, to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the 2019 attack. Participants are expected to gather at 14:00 (local time) along North Fung Yau Street.
Additional related gatherings are possible elsewhere in Hong Kong, including at the Yuen Long MTR station and at the YOHO shopping center. A heightened security presence is likely in the vicinity of all protest sites, and associated disruptions are to be anticipated.
At least 45 people were hospitalized following attacks on protesters and commuters in Yuen Long on July 21 2019, following a large protest march on Hong Kong Island that drew an estimated 400,000 people. A large group of men wearing white shirts attacked people in the Yuen Long MTR station and on the street with metal rods and bamboo poles as protesters were returning from the rally.
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 While the bill was withdrawn in September, mass protests continue to be organized to demand government reforms and police accountability over violence since the start of the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 coronavirus disease (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 proposed introducing the controversial new security law in May 2020. The law came into effect on the evening of June 30; 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.
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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