Hong Kong, Oct 4: Hours ahead of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s mask-ban announcement on Friday, thousands of anti-government protesters wearing masks took it to the streets to demonstrate, calling for greater democracy.
On Friday, Lam announced the mask ban at an afternoon media conference, banning Hong Kong protesters from wearing masks while demonstrating in the city against a controversial extradition bill that would allow suspects in the territory to be sent to mainland China.
The mask ban will go effective by Saturday and will be applied to individuals at “illegal” pro-democratic gatherings who use violence. People wearing for “legitimate” purpose would be exempted from the mask ban. Lam vows to go to the legislature in order to get legal backing.
As she announced the ban, Lam questioned: “People are asking can Hong Kong go back to normal? Is Hong Kong still a place where we can have our sweet home?”
She said the ban targeted violent anti-government protesters and rioters and that it “will be an effective deterrent to radical behavior”, adding, “We must stop the violence. Now, it’s all over Hong Kong.”
According to ABC, thousands of masked protesters ramped the focal financial hub before Lam announced the development, chanting “I want to wear face masks” and “Wearing mask is not a crime”.
“Will they arrest 100,000 people on the street? The government is trying to intimidate us but at this moment, I don’t think the people will be scared,” one pro-democratic protester, who gave his surname as Lui, told an online live broadcast.
However, experts warned Hong Kong against invoking Emergency Ordinance for the first time in more than half a decade could set a dangerous platform for rallies. Willy Lam, professor at the Chinese University, said: “ If the anti-mask legislation proves to be ineffective, it could lead the way to more draconian measures such as a curfew and other infringement of civil liberties.”
The ban followed widespread civil unrest in the city on Tuesday – when China celebrated its 70th anniversary of Communist Rule, which also include a teenager getting shot by riot police in the chest during the clash between anti-government protesters and Hong Kong police.
Hong Kong police extricated rules on the utilization of forces police officers should use in the run-up to mass demonstrations on October 1, giving them more prominent capacity to manage dissidents in troublesome circumstances, as per records seen by Reuters.
The development came after Tsang was reported shot during encounters in Tsuen Wan region, after dissidents shaking posts and umbrellas encompassed police and an official discharged his weapon at short proximity into the 18-year-old’s chest. Police said the official dreaded for his life.