Hong Kong security law: Police fire water cannon at protesters
BEIJING/HONG KONG (CHINA) – The first protest in Hong Kong after the controversial security law was introduced witnessed the police firing water cannon at protesters on Wednesday. With the introduction of the new law, the police made their first round of arrests, warning protesters of being charged with session or subversion.
Ending weeks of uncertainty, Beijing on Tuesday revealed the details of the new legislation, which critics say would bring the financial hub under an authoritarian rule.
The police resorted to pepper spray to arrest agitators as thousands of people thronged downtown to take part in a rally commemorating the anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to China in 1997. One metro station and several shops remained closed.
“I’m scared of going to jail but for justice I have to come out today, I have to stand up,” said Seth, 35, one of the protesters.
As crowds spilled on the streets, chanting “resist till the end” and “Hong Kong independence”, the police used water cannons to disperse them. They said 30 arrests were made on charges such as illegal assembly, obstruction, possession of weapons and violating the new law.
“You are displaying flags or banners/chanting slogans/or conducting yourselves with an intent such as secession or subversion, which may constitute offences under the … national security law,” said a police messae emblazoned on a banner.
The new law cracks down on crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign elements. The penalty is life imprisonment if found guilty. And for the first time, mainland security agencies will set up base in the city in the wake of the introduction of the security law.
According to officials in Beijing and Hong Kong, the law targets only a few “troublemakers” and will not clamp down on freedoms in the financial hub.
However, critics say it will stifle freedoms enjoyed by city residents ever since UK returned Hong Kong to China in 1997.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field