Thursday, July 2, 2020

To stop the protest, Hong Kong forbids the wearing of the mask

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Hong Kong's chief executive, Carrie Lam, mired in a crisis that is worsening day by day, announced Friday afternoon, October 4, the adoption, according to an emergency procedure, of a law prohibiting the wearing of the mask in certain circumstances. "It's all about interrupting the cycle of violence. It is not a matter of declaring a state of emergency, said Carrie Lam, surrounded by his senior ministers at a press conference.

The government has resorted to a procedure dating from the colonial era ("Emergency Regulations Ordinance") which has not been used since the riots of 1967. The law "anti-mascot" will enter into force Friday night at midnight.

In response, dozens of masked protesters piled plastic barriers, wooden pallets or traffic jams on a street in central Hong Kong, while thousands of others occupied the roadway. The stock market fell sharply on the announcement of the measure. The head of the executive has however indicated that the parliament would have the opportunity to discuss this law, as of its return on October 16th.

This initiative confirms the government's intention to continue to manage this political crisis through force and repression rather than through compromise and dialogue, as Carrie Lam proposed on September 4, by announcing the withdrawal of the bill. on extraditions. Before even knowing whether the "anti-mob" law was going to be passed, the protesters had announced a "Mask for All" day, calling on all Hong Kongers to wear it on Friday.

Extend the duration of police custody

"An anti-fascist law, as it exists in many free countries like France, does not interfere with citizens' freedom of expression. Said lawyer Nicholas Chan Hiu-fung, one of Hong Kong's delegates to the Chinese parliament's consultative chamber, at a press conference with a coalition of establishment representatives on Thursday. measured. As proposed, the ban will apply only at unauthorized gatherings.

It is common in Hong Kong, and even considered civic, to wear a surgical mask that covers the mouth and nose, at work and in public places, when one is cold or contagious. In the face of more and more frequent use of tear gas by the police, the protesters, however, adopted the use of more sophisticated gas masks. "What is the point of adopting a law if it is impossible to enforce? " said Ronny Tong, a member of the Executive Council.

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 1900 since the beginning of the movement. The idea of ​​a curfew also circulates. Carrie Lam dismissed the possibility of resigning considering her "duty" to handle the crisis.

This began after the introduction of a law facilitating extradition, including to China in early June. The controversial bill should be formally withdrawn by Parliament upon its return.

Aggravated anger

NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP

Even more than this anti-panic text is the use of emergency laws "Archaic" who worries and is denounced as "A dangerous drift towards an authoritarian system" by Dennis Kwok, lawyer and MP for the Civic Party. "The biggest problem is how the government plans to pass this law without respecting the normal legislative procedure. This will create a dangerous precedent »adds Eric Cheung, professor of law at Hong Kong University.

Since the 1st October, which was marked by riots in thirteen districts, disorders and confrontations took place every night in several neighborhoods.

The day before, the police had changed its internal rules on the use of force, reclassifying in a more lax manner the use of the different weapons available to the agents, allowing them to use live ammunition under less stringent conditions. 'before. This information, known this Friday, only aggravates the anger of the demonstrators against the police, while the shot fired at close range on a high school student, the 1st October, continues to be controversial.

The fact that the 18-year-old with a bullet in his chest was ignored for more than three minutes by police was widely denounced. "Such a delay with such an injury can make the difference between life and death," Cardiologist Alfred Wong told the media.

In addition, a photo of the same young man, taken a little earlier in the day by AFP, shows that his "Shield" is a swimming foam board, made with ropes as a handle. The white "stick" in his hand seems light and small, far from creating a life-threatening situation for the riot police, as the police who sanctioned the shots said.

For its part, the Hong Kong Journalists' Association, HKJA, has begun judicial review proceedings against the police for its treatment of journalists. The worst accident occurred on Sunday (September 29th), when Indonesian journalist Veby Indah was hit by a projectile that made her blind in one eye.

Carrie Lam also announced that she will be delivering her policy speech on the first day of October 16. According to his entourage, it should announce drastic measures to solve the acute crisis of housing and rents. It relies heavily on this speech, it is said, to bring calm to Hong Kong.

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