Hong Kong police permitted dozens of people to hold a small protest under tight restrictions, including wearing a numbered badge around their necks, the participants were barred from wearing masks, reported the Associated Press. The rules were set out by the police “for security reasons”, and they monitored the march.
On Sunday, the protesters were chanting slogans and marching in the rain with banners against a proposed land reclamation and rubbish processing project in the eastern district of Tseung Kwan O, where the project is slated to be built.
About 60 people expressed their opposition to the plans in Tseung Kwan O, a residential and industrial idea, and had to walk in a cordoned-off moving line in the rain amid heavy police presence.
While speaking to AP, Theresa Wang described the new restrictions as “a bit weird” but said they were still acceptable because the city was adjusting to “the new Hong Kong.”
“I’m not happy but we have to accept it. We have to accept what is deemed legal now,” the 70-year-old retiree told AP, adding that she hoped the protest would be a sign the government is more open to discussion.
Another protester, Jack Wong, said he would have preferred not to wear the badge printed with a number. The police had said that these rules were required to prevent lawbreakers from joining the march.
“But if it is a requirement, what can I say? I prefer not to comment further. You know what I mean,” he said.
Cyrus Chan, one of the march organisers, said demonstrators had communicated with police on their promotional materials and slogans. He informed officers earlier had told him that participants should not wear all-black outfits. Protesters commonly wore black during the 2019 protests.
“It’s definitely strict,” Chan told AP. “We hope this is just an individual case. We hope to show them that Hong Kong society has the ability to have peaceful marches and they do not need to set that many conditions to restrict us.”
During the pandemic, protesters were rare due to Covid-19 restrictions. Activists were silenced or jailed after Beijing imposed a national security law following a major protest in 2019.
As per the report, critics say the city’s freedom of assembly which was promised to Hong Kong when it returned to China from Britain in 1997 has been eroded.