After being closed for several months for renovation, Civil Square, a popular venue for protest actions, finally reopened on Wednesday.
But the government rejected the first application to use the refurbished area by the Hong Kong Federation of Students, Apple Daily reported on Thursday.
In denying the HKFS request to convene in the property, the Office of the Chief Secretary for Administration said the venue could not be used for mass demonstration during regular working days.
It is only open for public gatherings between 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sundays and public holidays, the office said. For the rest of week, the square may only be used by people walking in and out of the government headquarters and the Legislative Council.
Following the renovation work, the Civil Square now sports improved security features. It is surrounded by three-meter iron fences while five steel posts about a meter in height block the entrance. There is a sign that says curfew is now being implemented in the area.
The number of security guards assigned at the square has been doubled.
The HKFS application for use of the square came after the group decided to launch a student strike between Sept. 23 and Oct. 2 to protest against the universal suffrage framework set by Beijing for the 2017 chief executive election. It planned to convene at the square every day during the period.
HKFS secretary general Alex Chow said the move to deny their application is a form of political suppression that infringes on the people’s right to convene, showing that the government fears or even loathes the people.
He said HKFS will submit another application after adjusting their schedule for holding the protest actions.
Democratic Party legislator Albert Ho Chun-yan said he plans to file a petition for judicial review of the new security set-up at Civil Square, noting that the government move is no different from depriving citizens of their right to petition and express their grievances.
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