Hong Kong, May 25 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong’s police arrested at least 180 people on Sunday during a protest against a national security law for the former British colony that the Beijing government is planning to implement and which has been endorsed by the police.
Hong Kong police commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung expressed his “full support” for the planned legislation on Monday.
“Since June last year, the opposition to the proposed legislative amendments has led to massive violent protests (…) Police deeply realized that Hong Kong is at the risk point of national security and there is a need to take effective measures to prevent the situation from deteriorating,” the police said in a statement posted on its website.
Thousands of people came out into the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest against the security law, which they believe would take away many of the current freedoms for residents in the territory.
At least 180 people were arrested during the demonstrations “for offenses like participating in an unauthorized assembly, unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct in a public place,” the police said in the statement on Sunday.
The police accused some protesters of attacking police officials with bricks and umbrellas and added that “some rioters even allegedly threw glass bottles from the rooftop of a building on the ground, posing a serious threat to public safety.”
The legislation would prohibit any act of “treason, secession, sedition and subversion” against the central government, in addition to theft of state secrets and the organization of activities in Hong Kong by foreign political groups.
It is currently being debated in the Chinese National People’s Congress and is due to be approved before its conclusion on Thursday.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has expressed her full support for the legislation and a local government spokesperson said on Sunday that the new law will make the city safer.
However, several civil organizations have condemned the measure being planned by Beijing saying it would limit the freedoms of Hong Kongers.
Nonprofit Human Rights Watch said in a statement that the proposed law “threatens the basic rights and freedoms of the city’s people” and “will prohibit acts of ‘splittism, subversion, foreign intervention, and terrorism,’ vague terms that the Chinese government has frequently used on the mainland to punish peaceful dissent.”
“Hong Kong people will now have to consider arrests and harsh sentences for protesting, speaking out, running for office, and other freedoms they have long enjoyed and struggled peacefully to defend,” it added.
Another nonprofit, China Human Rights Defenders, also urged Beijing to reverse its decision saying the security law “would erase any existing political separation between the semi-democratic territory and the one-party authoritarian mainland China.”
“The Chinese government must end its interference in the affairs of Hong Kong in violation of the Basic Law and ensure that the human rights of Hong Kong residents are fully respected. The international community must take necessary and appropriate actions to stop China’s violations of the Basic Law,” the organization added in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Human Rights in China NGO said in another statement that the international community must be aware of the threat posed by a “non-accountable regime that dismisses its international commitments and ignores international standards.”
Hong Kong has been gripped for several years by political unrest and demonstrations, which had been gaining momentum in the months leading up to the coronavirus outbreak, which led to them being suspended.
The territory was returned to Chinese control in 1997 after a century and a half of British rule, after London and Beijing signed a joint declaration in 1984 under which the UK renounced its last Asian colony.
This deal established a series of freedoms in the city for 50 years, many of which do not exist on mainland China. EFE-EPA