Police arrested over 200 demonstrators after the huge July 1 march in Hong Kong. Over 1,000 police moved in on the demonstrators. A legislator said police pepper-sprayed his eyes from two inches away without warning.
About 218,000 people turned out for the annual protest march on July 1—Hong Kong’s “Independence Day”—Civil Human Rights Front, the organizing group said.
After the march, over 1,000 demonstrators from two organizations stayed on, sitting along the streets at Wan Chai and the Central District, shouting slogans and protesting proposed scrapping of Legislative Council by-elections and real estate hegemony.
Eventually the protestors quieted down, sat and sang, or lay on the ground. That’s when more than 1,000 riot police moved in and began dispelling them after midnight.
About 300 demonstrators, some of them handcuffed, were carried away by police.
Hong Kong police said that 228 demonstrators in all—181 male and 47 female, between the ages of 17 and 68—were arrested on charges of illegal assembly and obstruction of public areas. They were subsequently released in groups starting Saturday morning, July 2.
The first group of around a dozen people was released at 9 a.m., among them Legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip of the People Power Party.
Chan condemned the authorities for abusing police power. He said the police grabbed his neck and pepper-sprayed his eyes from two inches away without any warning.
July 1 is the commemoration of the 1997 transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from Britain to China, making it a Special Administrative Region under the principle of “one country, two systems.”
However, challenges to Hong Kong’s autonomy and the implementation of democratic reform and universal suffrage have been ongoing, and July 1 has become a day when Hong Kongers take to the streets to safeguard their rights.
In 2002, the proposed Article 23, the enactment of laws prohibiting acts of treason and subversion against the Chinese government, was met with fierce opposition by the Hong Kong people, and eventually shelved.
On July 13, the Hong Kong government will pass the “substitute mechanism” to replace the by-election mechanism.
Under the substitute mechanism, when a legislative councilor position becomes vacant, there would not be a new election, instead, the person with the highest vote from the previous election would fill the position.
Sing Ming, an Associate Professor of Social Sciences at HK University of Science and Technology, told The Epoch Times that this is obviously directed by the Chinese communist regime, and something the Hong Kong people should be vigilant about.
Demonstrators at the July 1 march said they will again surround and put pressure on the legislature to prevent the substitute mechanism from passing.
Democratic Party founder Martin Lee Chu-ming said if the substitute mechanism is passed, Article 23 will also pass more easily. He called for civilians to surround the legislature on July 13 to show their disapproval of the substitute mechanism.