Hong Kong police arrest about 290 protesters

Hong Kong police arrest about 290 protesters”

About 30 people were arrested Sunday at protests against the government's decision to postpone elections for Hong Kong's legislature, police and a news report said.

In July Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam postponed the September 6 election for seats in the Asian financial hub's Legislative Council for a year because of a spike in coronavirus cases. Critics say her government anxious the opposition would gain seats if voting was held as scheduled. Thousands of police were stationed around the bustling Kowloon Peninsula on Sunday as marchers waved placards and chanted popular anti-government slogans such as, "liberate Hong Kong". One woman was arrested during a protest in the Kowloon district of Yau Ma Tei on charges of assault and spreading pro-independence slogans, the police department said on its Facebook page.

Rallies have been all but outlawed this year with authorities citing both security concerns and wielding emergency anti-coronavirus laws to ban public gatherings.

In a Facebook statement, police said at least 289 people were arrested, mostly for unlawful assembly.

In the nearby Jordan neighborhood, protesters raised a banner criticizing the election delay, the Post said. It put the number of arrests at 33.

They include two prominent activists, Figo Chan of the group Civil Human Rights Front and veteran legislator and democracy activist Leung Kwok-hung, known as "Long Hair", the dpa news agency reported.

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Hours before the protest, the police arrested radio DJ Tam Tak Chi, another democracy activist, for "uttering seditious words" - a colonial era offence. At least 20 people have been arrested allegedly in breach of the law.

Opposition activists had hoped to obtain a majority in the Legislative Council (LegCo), capitalising on anger at Beijing's imposition of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong, and fears that the territory's freedoms are being eroded. Many protesters also called for the release of 12 people arrested by Chinese coastguards while attempting to flee by boat to Taiwan. Lam blamed an upsurge in coronavirus cases, but critics said her government anxious the opposition would gain seats if voting went ahead on schedule.

The number of new daily infections has fallen substantially from triple digits in July to single digits now.

While street protests have largely lost momentum, anti-government and anti-Beijing sentiment persists, with China's offer of mass coronavirus testing for Hong Kong residents prompting calls for a boycott amid public distrust. Nearly two dozen people were fined for violating coronavirus social-distancing rules.

Leung said he and other protesters want to express their opposition to the government's mistakes during the past year, including the security law.

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