HONG KONG PROTEST MONITOR 28 FEBRUARY 2020
THE SITUATION NOW
Several political protests and rallies against government measures to counter the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak occurred over the past weekend. The levels of violence declined and no serious clashes between protesters and police were reported.
Black-clad protesters staged peaceful sit-in at Ma On Shan MTR station: 21 February 2020. Shutterstock/ HUI
That evening around 100 black-clad protesters, many holding banners bearing pro-democracy slogans, staged a sit-in at Yoho Mall, Yuen Long. Riot police equipped with batons, tear gas and pepper spray were seen at the entrance of the mall. At around 2300 local time, protesters began to set fire to debris on Castle Peak Road in the region, which was later extinguished and cleaned up by police officers.
In the morning of Sunday 23 February, more than 100 people, including local residents and pro-democracy demonstrators, joined an approved march in Tsing Yi Garden in Tuen Mun, New Territories to oppose the use of Yan Oi General Clinic as a treatment centre for suspected COVID-19 cases. Some protesters allegedly shouted abuse at police officers and called for Hong Kong independence. That afternoon, more than 50 protesters rallied in Tuen Mun Park to protest against female entertainers, who they accused of disturbing public order. Police maintained a heavy presence and reportedly fired pepper spray at the end of the rally.
In the evening of Sunday 23 February, a group marched around Richland Garden in Kowloon Bay, to object to the government’s plan to designate the Kowloon Bay Health Centre as a quarantine centre.
The following weekdays were peaceful with multiple small-scale pro-democracy activities occurring throughout the territory, but with no significant violence reported. The most noticeable incidents happened on Wednesday 26 February, when rubbish bins at Kowloon Bay, Choi Hung and Wong Tin Sin MTR stations were set alight. While the cases are still under investigation, police believe they are protest-related.
THE WEEK AHEAD
On Wednesday 26 February, the Hong Kong government announced an increase to the annual police budget to HK$25.8 billion, a 25 percent rise from the previous year. The additional funding will be partly spent on adding another 2,500 officers and doubling equipment allowance. We warn this move is likely to fuel anti-police and anti-government sentiment given the economic difficulties the territory is experiencing. We continue to expect significant protest activity to resume once the immediate COVID-19 threat subsides.
On Friday 28 February, two lunchtime rallies referred to as ‘Never forget 831’ are scheduled in Central and at InPark, Kwun Tong to commemorate the six-month anniversary of 31 August 2019 clashes in which police allegedly attacked passengers indiscriminately at the Prince Edward Mass Transit Railway (MTR) station. On Saturday 29 February, pro-democracy protesters have called for a sit-in at around 2000 at Prince Edward MTR station in Mong Kok to commemorate the same event. There is potential for clashes between protesters and police and therefore we advise against travel to or through the locations noted above. Additionally, on Saturday afternoon the Prince Edward MTR station may be closed early to avoid damage. Violence may extend to nearby Nathan Road and Prince Edward Road, notably after dark.
On Sunday 1 March, online activity indicates two marches against government plans to set up quarantine facilities, including one facility in Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong island and the other in Kowloon Bay are planned. Police presence is expected to be significant with officers acting quickly to any disruptive activities.
At the time of writing neither pro-democracy protests nor COVID-19 related demonstrations are scheduled over the coming weekdays. However, we believe the anti-government momentum continues to be significant and localised ‘flash-mob’ style rallies are likely to occur as reflected by the arson events happened in the past week.
Friday 28 February
1300: ‘Never forget 831’ lunchtime rally is scheduled in Central with detailed locations remain confirmed.
1300: ‘Never forget 831’ lunchtime protest is scheduled at InPark, Kwun Tong.
Saturday 29 February
2200: A sit-in is scheduled at Prince Edward MTR Station, Mong Kok, Kowloon
Sunday 1 March
1600: Protesters plan to rally near the Lennon Wall in Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong Island to protest against designating the local Jockey Club Clinic as a coronavirus centre.
2030: Protesters plan to march 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.
PROTEST CHRONOLOGY 21 FEBRUARY – 27 FEBRUARY
Friday 21 February
Protesters rallied at the following places to mark the seven-month of the Yuen Long attack.
1300: A group of people gathered at Landmark, Central.
1300: Times Square, Causeway Bay. Anti-government protests and pro-Beijing activists ended in scuffle.
1300: InPark, Ngau Tau Kok, Kwun Tong. Police and protesters engaged in verbal confrontations.
1300: Around 100 people rallied around Zero Carbon Building, Kowloon Bay.
1950: Around 100 people staged a sit-in inside Yoho Mall. At around 2300 protesters set debris on Castle Peak Road.
2030: Dozens of people staged a sit-in inside Causeway Bay MTR station and Ma On Shan MTR station.
Sunday 23 February
1100: More than 300 people gathered in Tsing Yin Garden, Tuen Mun to oppose designating the Yan Oi General Clinic as a coronavirus quarantine centre.
1300: Around 50 protesters gathered at Tuen Mun Park to protest against female singers who they accused of noise pollution and lewd behaviours.
2000: Richland Garden, Kowloon Bay. Protest against Kowloon Bay Health Centre as a COVID-19 quarantine facility.
Monday 24 February
0300: Dozens of people reportedly set roadblocks on Tai Po Road.
1900: Dozens of people reportedly posting posters at the Lennon Wall outside the Kwai Chung Plaza, Kwai Chung, New Territories. Police and local residents ended in verbal confrontations. Riot police presented and made several arrests.