Date
17 November 2018
Police rejected all the venues suggested by pro-democracy groups for the annual July 1 march, insisting that it must start at Victoria Park's central lawn. Photo: Bloomberg
Police rejected all the venues suggested by pro-democracy groups for the annual July 1 march, insisting that it must start at Victoria Park's central lawn. Photo: Bloomberg

Police, rallyists still can’t agree on July 1 march venue

Police and pro-democracy activists are still in a standoff over the venue of the July 1 march.

The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the organizer of the annual march, wants the rally to start from East Point Road in Causeway Bay.

But in its Letter of No Objection issued on Friday, police only approved Victoria Park’s central lawn in Causeway Bay as the starting point, the same as last year.

Carlos Hung Chun-ngai, the deputy convener of CHRF, said the venue suggested by the police poses safety risks.

He said the exit is only 4 meters wide and protesters, along with monitors and media representatives, would not be able to pass.

It was pure luck that no untoward incident happened last year, Hung added.

But police said the central lawn could not accommodate the rallyists and their booths.

The CHRF plans to refer the issue to the Appeal Board on Public Meetings and Processions and, if that fails, apply for a judicial review.

The groups joining the protest will discuss this week if they will resort to “civil disobedience” by defying the police and starting the march at East Point Road.

Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung warned organizers that they are courting unlawful assembly charges if they insist on using East Point Road as the starting point.

Former lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung called the warning a bluff to scare off protesters.

The CHRF had suggested alternative venues, including the junction of Jardine’s Bazaar and Hennessy Road, but they were also turned down.

The traditional starting point of the march, Victoria Park’s football pitches, had been reserved for the second straight year for an activity by pro-Beijing groups who will be celebrating the anniversary of the 1997 handover.

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KN/CG

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