Hong Kong police have declined to permit one of the city’s largest annual marches as Chinese lawmakers finalize a sweeping national security law for the former British colony.
The march planned for the July 1 anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty is against the city’s social distancing rules and may cause violence, the police said in a statement Saturday circulated by its organizer Civil Human Rights Front. The group has arranged some of the city’s largest-ever protests, including peaceful marches against a controversial extradition bill last year that attracted more than a million people and helped lead to the proposal’s ultimate withdrawal.
The rejection came amid rekindled political tension in Hong Kong triggered by the national security law that some fear could damage freedom of expression and the rule of law. The city has already been hit by months of social unrest that started in June last year against China’s tightening grip over Hong Kong, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic that has paralyzed retail and tourism.
Civil Human Rights Front said it will appeal Sunday against the decision. The police have already issued an unprecedented ban against an annual candlelight vigil on June 4 marking the Chinese military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989.