Hong Kong election postponement protests result in 289 arrests
Beijing, Sep 7 (efe-epa).- At least 289 people were arrested Sunday amid rallies against the postponement of elections in the special administrative region.
According to the police force, 270 of the 289 had been arrested for unlawful assembly, while, according to the state RTHK outlet on Monday, a woman was arrested for a suspected violation of the controversial new national security law for allegedly chanting pro-independence slogans.
The police on its Facebook page said others were arrested for “disorderly conduct in a public place; five were arrested for failing to produce proof of identity on demand; the remaining ones were arrested for assaulting Police officers, obstructing Police officers in due execution of duty, loitering, etc.”
During the protests, clashes between security forces and some violent protesters were reported, and police used pepper spray and other methods to disperse the crowds.
Sunday would have been polling day for the Legislative Council, the most important election in the former British colony, had they not been postponed in August for a year.
At the time, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the postponement was to protect the lives and health of citizens against a new wave of COVID-19 infections, currently under control, judging by official figures.
COVID-19 has killed at least 96 people in Hong Kong among the 4,878 confirmed cases.
Lam denied the pro-democratic opposition’s claims that the postponement was due to political motives. The opposition swept the District Council elections in November and, following the imposition by Beijing of the new Hong Kong security law, antipathy for the (pro-Beijing) government grew.
Among the reasons given for postponing the elections, Lam cited the risk of contagion due to the gathering of voters and workers at polling stations and the impossibility for Hong Kongers living abroad to return to vote due to the obligation to undergo two weeks of quarantine on arrival.
The postponement of the elections was the latest chapter in the political upheaval that has shaken Hong Kong since mid-2019.
On June 30, Beijing imposed the controversial national security law, which punishes secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces with penalties of up to life imprisonment. It has caused fear among many Hong Kongers and has been condemned by rights organizations and many in the international community. EFE-EPA