Police ban Sunday’s Civil Human Rights Front rally days after group’s leader attacked

Masked protesters marching through Tai Kok Tsui. Photo by Vicky Wong.
Masked protesters marching through Tai Kok Tsui. Photo by Vicky Wong.

Hong Kong police have banned an upcoming Civil Human Rights Front rally due to take place on Sunday, just days after the organization’s leader was attacked by masked, hammer-wielding men.

According to an alert by NOW TV News, police refused to issue a so-called “letter of no objection” for the march, which was scheduled to begin on Sunday at 1:30pm at Salisbury Gardens in Tsim Sha Tsui and end at West Kowloon Station.

The broadcaster reported that police cited the large number of injuries at previous protests, and the increasingly common use of petrol bombs, and even improvised explosive devices.

The CHRF — the organization behind recent peaceful rallies that have drawn hundreds of thousands of people into the streets — have confirmed that they have submitted an appeal to the Appeal Board on Public Meetings and Processions, and that a meeting is expected to be held tomorrow.

“We sincerely ask the Appeal Board to consider our reasons in impartial and professional manners, to guarantee the rights and freedoms of rally participants, and to make the public opinion be expressed through public processions.”

The CHRF had announced plans for the rally on Wednesday evening, saying the march would call for the withdrawal of a controversial ban on face masks, and for the reform of the city’s police force.

Shortly after that announcement was made, the group’s convenor, Jimmy Sham, was attacked with hammers by at least four masked men in Kowloon. He was taken to hospital and is currently in a stable condition.

Past experience shows that similar police bans have done little to deter protesters from turning up anyway, and in recent weeks,  unsanctioned protests have proven to be more rule than exception. A July 27 rally in Yuen Long and an Aug. 31 event marking the fifth anniversary of a Beijing-backed “fake” electoral reform package both drew major crowds in spite of police bans.

This weekend’s protest would have marked the 20th weekend of protests, which were sparked by a controversial extradition bill, but have since morphed into calls for wider democratic reforms, an investigation into police brutality, and calls for amnesty for arrested protesters.

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