Over 300 people were arrested in Hong Kong on Wednesday during demonstrations over national security legislation which would put the semi-autonomous city further under Beijing's boot. Protesters planned to gather at the city's Legislative Council during a debate on a related law which would criminalize insulting China's national anthem - though security forces stopped them before they could get that far.
Riot police fired pepper pellets to disperse crowds in the heart of the financial district and elsewhere, while groups of suspected protesters were gathered up and made to sit on sidewalks as their belongings were searched, according to Reuters.
First-person footage on my #GoPro, where a riot police pushed me onto the ground, and sent no help but plenty of pepper spray.— Victor Tong K. S. (@victks1219) May 27, 2020
I was injuried while my camera’s screen was damaged.
#HongKong #HKProtests #HKPoliceBrutality #StandWithHongKong pic.twitter.com/p89VkWsrGp
"Hong Kong independence, the only way out!" chanted protesters, along with "Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times" - which is exactly what CCP officials warned about while justifying the new laws which include provisions against secession, subversion and foreign interference.
One protester had a sign reading "one country, two systems is a lie."
A heavy police presence around the Legislative Council deterred protesters planning to disrupt the debate of a bill that would criminalise disrespect of the Chinese national anthem. The bill is expected to become law next month.
Angry over perceived threats to the semi-autonomous city’s freedoms, people of all ages took to the streets, some dressed in black, some wearing office clothes or school uniforms and some hiding their faces beneath open umbrellas in scenes reminiscent of the unrest that shook Hong Kong last year. -Reuters
"Although you’re afraid inside your heart, you need to speak out," said 29-year-old clerk 'Chang' who was dressed in black and packing a helmet respirator and goggles in her backpack.
Unveiled in Beijing last week, latest national security proposal includes legislation to combat secession, subversion and terrorism in Hong Kong, as well as Chinese intelligence agencies setting up shop on Hong Kong soil, according to the report.
"The Hong Kong police’s latest strategy is to engage earlier to stop people from gathering in the first place now to avoid repeating the situation from last June and July," said 24-year-old social worker 'Lee' to Bloomberg, who was protesting in the city's central Causeway Bay shopping district. "I think we are a bit lost over what the next action can be. But I am here to fight for the independence of Hong Kong, even though I know the chance is low. I will try my very best until the end."
On Thursday, China is set to pass a draft decision on the security legislation at the end of the National People's Congress - the country's annual meeting of their 'rubber-stamp parliament, as Bloomberg puts it, which adds that details of the new laws could then be unveiled in the coming months.
"Security laws only make sense in a democratic country," said protester 'Wong,' who fears that Hong Kong will be "certified dead" if passed. "In Hong Kong and China, it will just be an excuse to crack down on dissidents."