Hong Kong’s pan-democratic Social Democratic Alliance (SDA) had its application to hold a march on July 1 rejected by the police on Monday (June 28), and the SDA has expressed its dissatisfaction and will file a complaint.
The LSD applied to the Hong Kong police last week to hold a march on the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, calling for “civil society, resistance to political repression and the release of all political prisoners.” But the Hong Kong Police Commissioner on Monday issued a “notice of objection to the public march” to the League of Social Democrats, citing the new epidemic as a reason for restricting public gatherings.
For the past decade or so, thousands of Hong Kong people have held mass marches almost every year on July 1, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, with a wide range of aims and demands, from demands for more democracy to solutions to the sky-high property market. However, this year’s July 1 is particularly sensitive because, for one, it is the centennial celebration of the founding of the Communist Party of China, and many high-ranking officials of the Hong Kong government will go to Beijing to attend the celebration; for another, it is the first anniversary of the implementation of the Hong Kong version of the National Security Law, and many pan-democrats or other dissidents have been charged with violating the law and even arrested and imprisoned.
Citing a letter from the police to the LSD, Reuters reported that the police claimed that the current anti-epidemic rule is that no more than four people can gather outdoors, and that the LSD’s proposed march would pose a “significant risk” to public life and health, “harming public safety and affecting the rights of others. “.
The police also explicitly told the LSD that anyone violating the ban would face up to five years in prison.
The LSD was very unhappy with the police ban, stressing that taking to the streets on July 1 is a multi-year tradition for Hong Kong people to collectively speak out and fight for democracy. Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) quoted the LSD’s response as saying that the police’s opposition and ban on the July 1 march this year was “a hawkish government taking the stage and pandering to the Chinese Communist Party” at the expense of Hong Kong people’s basic human rights.
The League of Social Democrats decided to file a complaint with a committee in charge of public gatherings and marches in Hong Kong.
The annual march on July 1 began in 2003, but on July 1 last year, for the first time, the annual march was denied by the police, who cited the need for epidemic prevention as the reason. But thousands of people took to the streets despite the ban, protesting the Hong Kong version of the national security law that had just taken effect that day.
The Civil Human Rights Front, the longtime organizer of the July 1 march, announced earlier this month that it had given up hosting the July 1 march for the first time after it was revealed that it was “not a legally registered organization. “The Civil Human Rights Front cited “administrative difficulties and changes in the political environment in Hong Kong” as the reason for its suspension.
Hong Kong people unhappy with the ban on the march say the authorities have been using “social distance” as a pretext to prevent people from holding protest rallies after the massive “anti-China” demonstrations in Hong Kong in 2019. The Hong Kong government rejects the accusation.
Some democrats have questioned why the government allows concerts, art exhibitions and other events to be held in spite of the ban on anti-epidemic gatherings, but not the July 1 demonstration.
Earlier this month, Hong Kong authorities also banned a candlelight vigil planned to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the June 4 tragedy in Tiananmen Square and deployed a large number of police officers to monitor and remove people who might have gathered in defiance of the ban.