HONG KONG PROTEST MONITOR 21 FEBRUARY 2020
THE SITUATION NOW
Over the weekend of 15-16 February demonstrators staged rallies and marches in many parts of Hong Kong to oppose the local government’s plan to designate public clinics near residential areas as treatment centres for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients. As forecast, while most protests ended peacefully there were incidents of localised violence as local residents and some radical pro-democracy activists engaged in confrontations with police.
On the afternoon of Saturday 15 February protests were held in three districts. One group marched in Tai Po, New Territories, to protest against using the local Jockey Club Clinic as a coronavirus health centre. Around the same time in Tin Shui Wan, New Territories, around 500 people joined an officially approved rally to oppose the use of Tin Shui Wai Community Health Centre as a treatment centre for suspected COVID-19 cases. They also called on the government to close the border with mainland China. While the event organisers ended the rally at around 1530 some protesters identified with the pro-democracy movement refused to leave and reportedly threw debris on to the tracks at Tin Sau Light Rail station and set a ticket reader on fire. Police responded with pepper spray and made at least 20 arrests. Elsewhere a small group staged a protest in Kennedy Town and Sai Wan, Hong Kong Island, at around 1600 but dispersed without incident. That evening some pro-democracy activists returned to Tin Shui Wai and set roadblocks on Tin Shui Road. Police officers quickly cleared away the roadblocks and no violence was reported.
On Sunday 16 February hundreds of people joined multiple marches to object to the government’s decision to designate clinics across the territory to treat suspected and mild COVID-19 cases. At around 1100 more than 200 people joined a march in Kwai Chung in the New Territories. That afternoon a small group staged a rally in Sai Kung and more 100 people protested in Fo Tan, both in the New Territories. There was no violence but police maintained a heavy presence, with a water cannon deployed in Fo Tan but not used.
At 1500 in Kowloon hundreds of people marched around Lei Cheng Uk Estate in Cheung Sha Wan to protest against the use of the Cheung Sha Wan Jockey Club General Outpatient Clinic as a coronavirus health centre. Some protesters and police exchanged verbal abuse but no violence was reported. That night around 100 people, including local residents and pro-democracy protesters, marched from Richland Gardens to Kai Yip Estate in Kowloon Bay. Police used pepper spray when some activists reportedly attempted to block roads with rubbish bins and debris.
On Tuesday 18 February a group gathered in Fo Tan, New Territories, during the evening to protest against using Fo Tan Chun Yang village clinic as a coronavirus health centre. No violence was reported.
On Wednesday 19 February around 70 pro-democracy activists joined a lunchtime rally at the IFC Mall in Central. That evening a group of public service employees staged a rally at Admiralty Civic Square to demonstrate their concern over the government’s coronavirus policies.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Friday 21 February marks the seven-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 protesters have called for demonstrations during lunchtime in Central, Taikoo, Kwai Chung, Cheung Sha Wan, Lai Chi Kok, San Po Kong, Kowloon Bay and Kwun Tong. They also called for sit-ins at multiple Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations across the territory (see details below). While the coronavirus outbreak is likely to deter many from attending any large gatherings we warn ‘flash-mob’ style actions are likely at the scheduled locations and there is a high probability of clashes between activists and the police. As a result we advise against travel to or through the locations noted above, particularly after dark.
No protests are scheduled over the coming week against government plans to set up quarantine facilities across the territory to counter the coronavirus outbreak. By 1200 Friday 21 February Hong Kong has recorded 68 confirmed cases and two deaths. Fears of infection and opposition to the government’s measures to manage the outbreak are likely to lead to more virus-related protests in the coming week.
The police presence continues to be significant, with officers frequently stopping and checking the identification of pedestrians and suspected activists and responding quickly to any disruptive protest-related activities. We assess this reflects a more robust ‘zero tolerance’ policing strategy that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Friday 21 February
Multiple rallies and sit-ins are scheduled to mark the seven-month anniversary of the attack by suspected organised criminal groups on members of the public in Yuen Long, New Territories, on 21 July 2019. Time and locations are planned as following:
· 1330: Lunch time rallies are scheduled at Central, Taikoo, Kwai Chung. Cheung Sha Wan and Lai Chi Kok, San Po Kong, Kowloon Bay
· 1900: Causeway Bay MTR station
· 1930: Yuen Long MTR station and Yoho Mall
· 2000: Ma On Shan MTR station, Heng Fa Chuen MTR station and Aberdeen Centre
PROTEST CHRONOLOGY 14 FEBRUARY – 20 FEBRUARY
Saturday 15 February
1430: Protesters gathered in Tai Po, New Territories, to oppose designating the local Jockey Club Clinic as a coronavirus health centre. They marched from Tin Hua Temple along Kwong Fuk and On Chee Road to Tai Po Plaza.
1430: Protesters gathered at Tin Shui Wai, New Territories, to oppose designating the Tin Shui Wai (Tin Yip Road) Community Health Centre a coronavirus clinic. Protesters marched from Wang Yat Square to Tin Ching Estate. Activists threw rubbish bins onto the tracks at Tin Sau Light Rail station and set a ticket reader on fire. Police used pepper spray and made arrests.
1600: Dozens of people marched around Kennedy Town, Sai Wan, Hong Kong Island before dispersing peacefully around 1730.
1830: Protesters returned to Tin Sau Road in Tin Shui Wan and set up roadblocks.
Sunday 16 February
1100: More than 200 people gathered in Kwai Chung, New Territories to oppose designating the South Kwai Chung Jockey Club General Out-Patient Clinic as a coronavirus centre. The crowd dispersed an hour later, but dozens of pro-democracy protesters refused to leave and engaged in a verbal exchange with police.
1500: Hundreds of protesters marched around Lei Cheng Uk Estate in Cheung Sha Wan, New Kowloon, to protest against using the Cheung Sha Wan Jockey Club General Outpatient Clinic as a coronavirus health centre. No violence reported.
1500: Protesters staged a rally in Sai Kung, New Territories, to oppose using the Sai Kung Outdoor Recreation Centre as a quarantine centre.
1700: Over a hundred local residents staged a rally at Shan Mei Street Playground in Fo Tan, New Territories to protest against using Chun Yeung Estate as a quarantine centre.
2100: Around 100 local residents and pro-democracy protesters marched from Richland Gardens to Kai Yip Estate in Kowloon Bay to protest against designating Kowloon Bay Health Centre General Out-Patient Clinic as a coronavirus centre. Pro-democracy protesters set up roadblocks and engaged in verbal disputes with local residents. Police used pepper spray to disperse the activists.
Tuesday 18 February
1900: ‘Save Yourself’ rally against use of Fo Tan Chun Yang village as a coronavirus quarantine centre took place at the Fo Tan Chun Yang village, Sha Tin, New Territories.
Wednesday 19 February
1200: Protesters marched from the Western District Police Station to the Hong Kong Liaison Office in Sai Ying Pun, Western District, Hong Kong island, to demand the release of detained coronavirus whistle-blowers in mainland China.
1300: ‘Lunch with You’ rally at IFC Mall, Central. Over 70 pro-democracy activists marched to Connaught Place.
1815: Public service employees staged a rally at Admiralty Civic Square to oppose the government’s anti-epidemic policy.