HONG KONG PROTEST MONITOR 17 April 2020
THE SITUATION NOW
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the lockdown are still subduing organised public protest activities and there were no organised outdoor rallies over the previous weekend. However, smaller gatherings and attacks against pro-Beijing entities continued during the week. A pro-democracy activist was also stabbed by an unidentified assailant during a press interview.
Activists used the long Easter weekend to criticise the administration led by Carrie Lam and the police for alleged terrorism against pro-democracy supporters. They also accused the police and the government of suppressing activists and groups under the guise of COVID-19-related containment measures. There have been numerous online claims on social media accusing the police of using the lockdown to carry out searches, harass and detain suspected activists. There have been no planned public demonstrations driven by these accusations.
Logos of 'blue' businesses circulated on social media by pro-democracy activist.
On Sunday 12 April, an anti-Beijing activist posted an image on social media that showed the logos of companies that have been accused of supporting the Hong Kong police. These ‘blue’ businesses include some well-known American brands, including Pizza Hut, KFC, McDonald’s, The Cheesecake Factory and Starbucks, among others. While there were no calls to stage any protests at these businesses in Hong Kong, the posting serves as a reminder that these businesses are still vulnerable to targeted attacks and calls on social media to continue.
On Monday 13 April, a 21-year-old male student of Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education was arrested after he was caught with two petrol bombs outside the Kwai Chung Police Station in New Territories. The suspect was under police surveillance at the time and is alleged to have been involved in a 29 January petrol bomb attack on the station. No other arrests were made.
On Tuesday 14 April, four pro-government activists protested outside the High Court of the Hong Kong Administrative Region in Admiralty, Hong Kong Island. They unfurled banners with messages about disbarring Civic Party legislator and barrister Tany Chan. The activists are part of a pro-government group called ‘Hong Kong Love, Chinese Hearts’ who condemned Chan for allegedly violating a current public order directive banning public gatherings. Chan was hosting a meeting attended by 40 lawyers at a restaurant in Sham Shui Po last week. There was no violence reported during Tuesday’s protests, and the activists dispersed peacefully.
On Wednesday 15 April, a letter containing a suspicious white powder was delivered to the Social Welfare Department (SWD) headquarters on 213 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai District, forcing its staff to evacuate from the building. Shortly after that incident a similar letter addressed to Lin Jiatai, deputy director of the SWD, was found at SWD’s Wuzhong Building in Wan Chai District. This is the fourth instance of letters containing suspicious white powder discovered at government agencies or media outlets in the past two weeks.
Leung protested against the now withdrawn anti-extradition bill on 09 June 2019/Shutterstock: Hung
On Thursday 16 April, prominent pro-democracy activist and disqualified legislator Leung Kwok-hung was stabbed during an interview with a RTHK reporter outside the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Leung sustained minor injuries and the attacker was arrested. Retaliatory attacks against the police and pro-Beijing businesses and supporters cannot be ruled out.
THE WEEK AHEAD
At the time of writing no protests are scheduled over the coming week. However, Tuesday 21 April marks the nine-month anniversary of the attack by suspected organised criminal groups (‘triads’) on members of the public in Yuen Long, New Territories, on 21 July 2019. While protesters have not scheduled any gatherings yet, on that day more ad hoc activities including petrol bombs attacks are likely to occur in Yuen Long region, especially around Yuen Long Mass Transit Railway (MTR) station, Yoho Mall and nearby major roads.
On Wednesday 15 April, which marked China’s National Security Education Day, Luo Huining, the chief of the Hong Kong Liaison Office, urged more action on maintaining the legal and law enforcement system on national security grounds. Luo advocates harsher measures to rein in radical protesters and their activities which have undermined Hong Kong’s stability, prosperity and rule of law. He also accused ‘foreign forces’ of interfering in Hong Kong’s internal affairs and criticised pro-independence activists for challenging the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle. Luo’s speech was his strongest condemnation of the pro-democracy movement since he took office in January this year and reflects Beijing’s determination to safeguard state sovereignty and territorial integrity. We stress that further serious unrest in the post-coronavirus phases will sharpen Beijing’s anger and increase the likelihood of more overt intervention in the territory’s governance and legal system.
There have been various activist and advocacy groups on social media calling on the Hong Kong government to reject the implementation of a national security law (Article 32). Hong Kong Watch and the Hong Kong Bar Association are among many that have called on the government to reject Beijing’s efforts to reimpose the law. The Hong Kong government views the law as a necessity in order to further suppress anti-government organisations. The implementation, however, will more than likely incite public demonstrations.
No organised activity is scheduled.
PROTEST CHRONOLOGY 10 APRIL – 16 APRIL
Tuesday 14 April
1200: Four pro-government activists held a protest outside the High Court of the Hong Kong Administrative Region on 38 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong Island. They unfurled banners with messages about disbarring Civic Party legislator and barrister Tany Chan. No violence was reported.