Masks banned by Hong Kong's CEO

Saturday, 05 Oct, 2019

The city is expected to enact an emergency law that would outlaw face masks, worn by many protesters to hide their identities, after a special meeting of the Executive Council on Friday, media outlets TVB and Cable TV reported.

The ban will come into effect at midnight on Friday (9.30 pm India time).

Ms Lam said "violence had been escalating to alarming levels" leading to a situation of "chaos and panic" in the city. "Is Hong Kong still a place where we can have our sweet home?"

Lam bristled at a suggestion that the ban nudges Hong Kong closer to the authoritarian rule imposed by the Communist Party across the rest of China.

She said petrol bombs were being used inside closed spaces like railway stations, and that violent protesters had targeted public buildings and private properties.

Tsang, 18, was born after Britain returned Hong Kong to China and is part of the generation which is demanding greater freedoms. After Beijing and local leaders took a hardline against the protesters, they snowballed into a wider movement calling for more democratic freedoms and police accountability.

"What they are seeing in China is what the government wants them to see, which is a whole bunch of very spoiled young people.acting under the inspiration and direction of foreign black hands". They will give law enforcement more power to maintain social stability, including letting police have more power to arrest protesters.

That said, analysts were pointing out Friday that the ban on the masks would not be easy to implement, giving the example of the Yellow Vest protests in France, where protesters have been undeterred by a similar ban. Smaller rallies were held in several other areas.

Analysts warned the use of the Emergency Ordinance for the first time in over half a decade set a unsafe precedent. During the 1967 riots - a period where more than 50 people were killed in a year-long leftist bombing and murder spree - the British used the emergency laws to give police extra powers of arrest and roll out widespread censorship of the press.

While the Hong Kong and Chinese governments haven't ruled out the use of such emergency powers, they have so far refrained from accessing them.

"It is a risky first step. If the anti-mask legislation proves to be ineffective, it could lead the way to more draconian measures such as a curfew and other infringement of civil liberties", said Willy Lam, adjunct professor at the Chinese University.

An officer fired at Tsang Chi-kin on Tuesday after the teen struck him with a metal rod, making Tsang the first known victim of police gunfire since the protests began in June. Six other folks were charged with rioting alongside Tsang.

The government probably hopes that by banning face masks, it would be able to plant the fear of identification, and future retribution by the state, in the minds of protesters, which would act as a deterrence.

"I think in the end, that is what China will do (in Hong Kong)".

Many legislators and activists warned that the ban could be counter-productive and hard to enforce in Hong Kong where tens of thousands of people have already defied police bans on public rallies in the last four months. This has become a major point of contention between the two sides, and one of the protesters' five demands is that authorities retract their use of the term.

Protesters took to the street chanting, 'Wearing masks is not a crime!'

"Police brutality is becoming more serious and the set up of an anti-mask law is to threaten us from protesting", said the 27-year-old financial industry worker.

Thousands of masked protesters marched before Lam spoke.

The government made a decision to impose the ban under the law giving police sweeping emergency powers in a special meeting of the city's Executive Council, media outlets TVB and Cable TV reported.