Police have turned down two applications for staging marches over the weekend on the grounds that public safety may be put at risk.
The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the group that organized several massive protests against the now-suspended extradition bill, had sought from the police a letter of no objection for a march on Hong Kong Island this Sunday.
It planned to assemble the crowd at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday before staging a march from 3 p.m. to the Chater Road Pedestrian Precinct in Central, where they would hold a rally to pursue demands related to the extradition bill saga.
However, police on Thursday issued a letter of objection to the planned march and the rally in Central,and only allowed a rally at the park from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
In the letter, police said that in recent mass actions, some protesters had blocked roads and resorted to violence, disturbing the peace, vandalizing public facilities and causing injuries to many.
Police said they have reason to believe that some protesters would deviate from the stated routes of the march and, if so, the CHRF would not be able to maintain control and ensure the safety of participants and other people, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
The CHRF slammed the police for preventing people from holding a safe, legal and peaceful march. It said it had filed an appeal against the decision.
Also on Thursday, police used the same reasons to object to an application by activists for a march in Hung Hom and To Kwa Wan on Saturday.
In a letter of objection, police said they have received more than 1,200 letters seeking a ban on the planned protest.
As the planned march would pass through shopping and dining areas, it may provoke people with different views and lead to disagreements and chaos, the letter said.
As vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the district is heavy, and a number of old buildings and care homes for the elderly there lack fire safety facilities, a march would put many people at risk should violent clashes or arson take place. It would also obstruct emergency services of hospitals, fire stations and ambulances in the district, police said.
As such, the application could not be approved, according to the letter.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department also did not give its approval for the activists to use Sung Wong Toi Park as the end point of the march, it said.
Police also doubted the organizers’ capability to handle any untoward incident that may occur during the march as they have never staged a rally with more than 50 participants before.
Besides, the organizers did not provide details of the march, police said.
Timothy Lee Hin-long, who had filed the application, called the police decision a violation of the constitution and an unjustified restriction to the people’s freedom of speech.
He said he will not tell people what to do, although he hopes that they will take care of themselves and their companions and ensure their safety if they decide to go ahead with the plan.
Meanwhile, former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top political advisory body, and Tam Yiu-chung, the sole Hong Kong member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, are expected to attend a press conference set to be held by Safeguard Hong Kong Alliance on Friday to jointly call on the public to take part in a rally scheduled for Saturday at Tamar Park in Admiralty.
The rally’s theme is “oppose violence and save Hong Kong”.
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