Carrie Lam announced Friday the adoption, under an emergency procedure, of a law banning the wearing of the mask in certain circumstances.
The crisis in Hong Kong continues to worsen and calls for calm of the chief executive do nothing. Hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators on Saturday (October 5th) challenged the Hong Kong authorities by parading with a mask on their faces, despite the ban that provoked a night of violence across the semi-autonomous territory.
Protesters, almost all of them face-hidden under a mask, participated Saturday afternoon in an unauthorized gathering in the commercial district of Causeway Bay. They intended to brave the ban on demonstrating with a mask and prove their ability to mobilize while all subways in the city are stopped.
The Hong Kong government on Friday afternoon banned the wearing of the mask during protests, citing emergency provisions dating back to 1922, which had not been used in the last fifty-two years.
This measure, intended to put an end to four months of unprecedented protest against Beijing's control over the former British colony, has on the contrary set fire to the powders.
Barely a few hours after his announcement, protest actions broke out everywhere. Clashes occurred between police and protesters. Radical protesters ransacked dozens of subway stations, vandalized pro-China businesses, lit fires and blocked roads.
"Extremely terrifying violence has hit every neighborhood in Hong Kong", said in a video message the chief executive, Carrie Lam, calling it "Shocking", the actions committed by "Masked rioters".
After the vandalization of metro stations, the public operator MTR announced Saturday that traffic was suspended throughout the network.
The stock market fell sharply on the announcement of the measure. The head of the executive explained however that the Parliament would have the opportunity to discuss this law, as of its return, on October 16th.
Crisis management by force
The ban on the wearing of masks confirms the government's intention to continue to manage the political crisis with force and repression rather than compromise and dialogue, as Carrie Lam proposed on 4 September, by announcing the withdrawal of the draft law on extraditions. Before even knowing if the "anti-mob" law was going to be adopted, the protesters had announced a "Mask day for all", calling on all Hong Kongers to wear them on Friday.
There was also talk of using the same urgent procedure to extend the length of police custody from forty-eight to ninety hours to cope with mass arrests, nearly 1,900 since the beginning of the movement. . The idea of a curfew also circulates. Carrie Lam dismissed the possibility of resigning, considering " his duty " to manage the crisis.
This began after the introduction of a law facilitating extradition to China in early June. The controversial bill should be formally withdrawn by Parliament upon its return.