The Civil Human Rights Front said they are “extremely dissatisfied” with police’s decision to object to their plans for a march on Hong Kong Island this Sunday.
The Front originally planned to march from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to the Chater Road pedestrian precinct in Central. The police, however, only granted permission for them to hold an assembly at Victoria Park from 10am to 11pm, banned the march.
According to a statement posted on Facebook, CHRF convenor Jimmy Sham said the front was “extremely dissatisfied” with the decision to ban a “lawful, safe, and peaceful” march on the grounds of “endangering public safety.”
The CHRF has a track record of organizing peaceful large-scale rallies, including the annual July 1 marches, as well as the record-breaking peaceful marches that first kicked off the current protest movement in earnest. During the official hours of the marches, there was no violence, and even when protesters overstepped the bounds of the official route, the organizer took pains to announce that it no longer sanctioned their actions.
This is the first time one of the front’s marches has been banned since the movement began.
The front’s vice-convenor, Bonnie Leung, also told RTHK that the police decision could have implications for safety.
“It would create chaos and even danger of a stampede so this decision is not only unreasonable but also dangerous for public safety,” she said.
Amnesty International Hong Kong also took issue with the ban.
“The government cannot deprive citizens of [the right to] peaceful assembly, including the right to demonstrations, for ‘possible violence,’” they said in a statement. “Instead, the government has the responsibility to take reasonable and appropriate measures to protect protesters from threats of violence and to ensure that a legally held rally can be carried out peacefully.”
A number of netizens also expressed dissatisfaction.
“Who cares? I love to go shopping in Causeway Bay,” wrote one commenter, cheekily suggesting they would ignore the ban.
Indeed, past CHRF marches have drawn as many as two million people, raising questions as to whether Victoria Park could even contain the crowd if similar numbers showed up.
“Fine, we will just sit in the park, and we can’t help filling up the streets if there’re too many people,” another commenter wrote.
Shum said the Front had already appealed the police decision, and would announce new arrangements in due course.