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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

HK women’s group gets go ahead for first march since 2020

HK women’s group gets go ahead for first march since 2020

A Hong Kong women’s group said it received approval from police for a planned rally Sunday, in what would be one of the first authorized marches since mass protests ended in early 2020.
The Hong Kong Women Workers’ Association received a letter of no objection regarding the march, the group said in a statement on social media Thursday. The rally will be a test of the city’s civil liberties following Beijing’s imposition of a national security law, under which dozens of activists have been arrested.

Hong Kong residents are guaranteed the right of assembly under the “one country, two systems” framework set up before the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule in 1997. The police regularly approved protests before historically large and sometimes violent pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019, prompting Beijing to hand down the security law and limit people’s ability to criticize the government.

Representatives for the Hong Kong Police Force and the Security Bureau didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Police haven’t approved any demonstrations in the past three years because of health concerns, the city’s security chief, Chris Tang, said in a radio interview Jan. 28.

The city removed the last of social-distancing rules Wednesday, when a 945-day mask mandate was lifted. The city is “completely returning to normalcy,” Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee told reporters, raising the question of whether rallies will be allowed again.

The women workers’ rally will start at 11 a.m. local time at Southorn Playground in Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island and march to the government’s headquarters in Admiralty, according to a post on the group’s Facebook page. Police allowed a demonstration to take place on Jan. 19, 2020, in the city’s Central business district, before asking organizers, the Hong Kong Civil Assembly Team, to suspend the rally after objects were thrown at officers.

A mass trial of prominent pro-democracy figures got underway last month. The 47 defendants range from legal scholar Benny Tai to former lawmakers Claudia Mo and Leung “Long Hair” Kwok-hung and former student leader Joshua Wong. Some face a maximum of life imprisonment on conviction.

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