Arrests as mask ban fails to quell Hong Kong protests

Monday, 07 Oct, 2019

But undeterred by the ban and transport shutdown, several hundred pro-democracy protesters, many wearing masks, took to the streets on Saturday, marching through the normally bustling central district of Causeway Bay.

A 14-year-old boy was then shot and wounded Friday night when a plainclothes police officer, who was surrounded by a mob of protesters throwing petrol bombs, fired his sidearm.

For her many critics, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam pushed the freewheeling worldwide hub for trade, business, ideas and innovation one step closer to that dark scenario with her decision Friday to criminalize the wearing of masks, invoking rarely used emergency powers to expedite the ban and bypass the legislature.

Lam said the mask ban and the use of emergency powers that allow her to "make any regulations whatsoever" were necessary to curb violence and deter "radical behavior".

(AP Photo/Vincent Yu). Protesters carrying umbrellas march past a pedestrian walk bridge displaying photos of tainted Chinese President Xi Jinping and communist party flags in Hong Kong, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019.

Shopping malls were closed, supermarket chains said they would not open and many mainland Chinese banks, which were targeted in Friday night's violence, stayed shuttered.

Lam has defended her use of the emergency powers and said that she is willing to issue more executive orders if the violence continues.

The law was enacted by British colonial rulers in 1922 to quell a seamen's strike and last used in 1967 to crush riots.

Groups of black-clad youths roamed the city center, setting up barricades, covering the urban landscape with anti-China graffiti, cutting power lines to traffic lights and using walkie-talkies and messaging apps to coordinate.

"This unexpected emergency legislation is so ancient and draconian. And that is why the court has agreed to grant us a very fast and quick hearing in the second half of this month", Dennis Kwok, a pro-democracy lawmaker who represents the legal sector, said after the ruling. The courtroom did not set a hearing day but indicated it would be at the end of October.

"This is a constitutional case. The court has acknowledged there is controversy involving the use of the emergency law", said Ms Mo said.

She said anti-mask legislations were also adopted in a number of Western countries.

Lam on Thursday banned protesters from wearing masks in a hardening of the government's stance on the territory's most disruptive crisis since it reverted to Chinese rule in 1997. The ban applies to both equally illegal and law enforcement-authorised gatherings, and carries a penalty of up to a 12 months in jail and a great. Like 99.9% of other demonstrators, they also wear masks, too flimsy to ward off tear gas but covering enough of their faces to complicate any effort to identify them, when out rallying on the streets.

Enforcement proves hard in a city in which masks have normally been utilised considering the fact that a deadly respiratory disorder outbreak in 2003.

The aim of the law was to curb the trend of people breaking the law while masked, Lee said, though he admitted that the current situation can not be solved with one regulation. "I feel quite sad for them because ... the values that we have in Canada haven't made any impact on them yet". There are thousands of us. "We have to fight back, and uphold the rule of law, because it is being applied with double standards".

Protesters on Sunday chanted "Hong Kongers, revolt" and "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong", as riot police monitored them from overhead walkways and footbridges, some taking photographs and filming the marchers.

Some protesters spray painted the word "Resist" along a pavement. Speaking on a radio programme, he said that the police have not yet reported making any arrests under the new law.