THE SITUATION NOW
Hong Kong has recorded its first week in 2020 with negligible unrest. Neither significant political protests nor rallies against government measures to counter the COVID-19 outbreak were reported. This hiatus is largely the result of mass arrests last week and escalating concerns over the size and severity of the coronavirus outbreak.
People waiting the bus in Kwun Tong wore face masks to prevent COVID-19, 17 March 2020/Shutterstock: Yung
The main overtly political incident occurred on Wednesday 18 March near Mei Foo Mass Transit Railway (MTR) station where a group of people gathered to collect signatures demanding the enaction of Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23, which requires the Hong Kong government to implement anti-sedition and anti-secession legislation. It was reported that Janet Ng Yuet Lan, the vice chairwoman of the Sham Shui Po District Council and a member of the Civic Party, was allegedly attacked by a group of five suspected pro-Beijing activists. Ms Ng claimed that she was twice pushed to the ground and suffered injuries to her face and arm. No one was arrested and the police are seeking three suspects.On Thursday 19 March around 30 pro-democracy activists gathered at the IFC atrium in Central during lunchtime in opposition to the enactment of Basic Law Article 23 and in support for dual universal suffrage. The group marched inside the mall and dispersed peacefully.
THE WEEK AHEAD
On Sunday 15 March Alliance 23, a political group led by pro-Beijing politician and lawmaker Junius Ho, launched its first street campaign for legislating Basic Law Article 23. Ho claimed to have collected thousands of signatures of support at street booths and more than one million signatures collected online. Ho’s promotion of Article 23 has received strong opposition from pro-democracy lawmakers and activists.
Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23 states that the Hong Kong government ‘shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the central government.’ Pro-democracy advocates have been fearing that it may erode civil liberties and an attempt to legislate the article in 2003 was aborted after it led to huge anti-government protests. The Hong Kong government is again under significant pressure from Beijing to implement the legislation and we warn that any efforts to do so will likely spark large-scale protest activity.
Two political protests are scheduled over the coming weekend. Saturday 21 March marks the eight-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. Pro-democracy activists have called for sit-ins at Chai Wan, Causeway Bay, Heng Fa Chuen and Yuen Long MTR station. They have also scheduled a march along the Castle Peak Road – Yuen Long. Online activities indicate that the event organisers are calling for peaceful assembly but at the same time encouraging participants to bring batons and other weapons to protect themselves. A substantial police presence is almost certain and there is a high probability of violence if activists choose to confront the officers.
Sunday 22 March marks the half-year anniversary of the death of Chan Yin-lam, a 15-year-old HKDI female student. Chan went missing on 19 September 2019 and her body was found on 22 September 2019. Protesters allege the youth died as a result of police brutality. Officers denied the accusations and claimed Chan died of suicide. Memorials of Chan are scheduled during evening time at Kwun Tong Promenade in Kwun Tong, New Kowloon, Sheung Tak Estate carpark in Tseung Kwan O and Hong Kong Design Institute in Tiu Keng Leng, New Territories. We warn that there is the potential for violent confrontations between protesters and police should the authorities declare the memorials as illegal assemblies and seek to disrupt them.
Saturday 21 March
1930 - The ‘Never Forget 721’ sit-ins are scheduled at the following places:
Chai Wan MTR station, Hong Kong Island
Causeway Bay MTR station, Hong Kong Island
Heng Fa Chuen MTR station, Hong Kong Island
Yuen Long MTR station and Yoho Mall, New Territories
1930 - Protesters also plan to march along the Castle Peak Road – Yuen Long.
Sunday 22 March
1900 - Memorial gatherings of Chan Yin-lam are scheduled at the following places:
Kwun Tong Promenade, Kwun Tong, New Kowloon
Hong Kong Design Institute (HKDI), Tiu Keng Leng, New Territories
Sheung Tak Estate, Tseung Kwan O, New Territories
PROTEST CHRONOLOGY 14 MARCH – 19 MARCH 2020
Thursday 19 March
1300 - Lunchtime rally at IFC Atrium, Central.