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Hong Kong police ban pro-democracy rally over fears of violence by protesters

It follows a return to violence during protests in the region last weekend.

Policemen draw their guns during a confrontation with demonstrators during in Hong Kong last weekend
Policemen draw their guns during a confrontation with demonstrators during in Hong Kong last weekend
Image: AP/PA Images

POLICE IN HONG Kong have banned a mass pro-democracy rally from going ahead on Saturday over public safety concerns, organisers said.

It follows a return to violence during protests in the region last weekend, which saw some of the worst clashes in three months of political unrest in the financial hub.

A rally this Saturday was set to mark five years since China rejected political reforms in Hong Kong, a decision which sparked the 79-day Umbrella Movement.

But in a letter to the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) today, police said they feared that some of those involved in the protests would commit “violent and destructive acts”.

Citing previous protests, the letter also claimed that protesters carried out “arson and large-scale road blockades” and used “petrol bombs, steel balls, bricks, long spears, metal poles, as well as various self-made weapons” to destroy public property, damage social order and injure others.

The move comes after police deployed water cannons and fired a warning gunshot to fend off protesters on Sunday night, when a sanctioned rally turned violent.

hong-kong-protests A protester fires a sling shot at police during a protest in Hong Kong last weekend

hong-kong-protests Policemen draw their guns during a confrontation with demonstrators during in Hong Kong last weekend Source: AP/PA Images

The CHRF, responsible for the largest rallies the city has seen in decades, said they would appeal the decision.

“You can see the police’s course of action is intensifying, and you can see [Hong Kong leader] Carrie Lam has in fact no intention to let Hong Kong return to peace, but is trying to incite the anger of more citizens through tough measures,” the group’s leader Jimmy Sham told reporters.

Supporters had been urged to gather in the centre of Hong Kong and to march to the Liaison Office, the department that represents China’s central government in the region, but both aspects, which required permission from authorities, have been banned.

The last event organised by the CHRF on 17 August brought hundreds of thousands of people to the streets in a deliberate show of peaceful protest that saw demonstrators disperse without clashes.

On that occasion, the initial rally in a Hong Kong park was approved by authorities but protesters later defied a ban to march through the city.

The protests were ignited when the city’s Beijing-backed government tried to pass a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China, but have evolved into a wider call for greater democracy and an investigation into allegations of police brutality.

More than 850 people have been arrested since June.

The unrest has shown no sign of abating, with protesters deadlocked with the Hong Kong government, which has refused to give in to their demands.

- © AFP 2019

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