Hong Kong: Dozens held as ‘anti-protest’ law kicks in on handover anniversary

Hong Kong: Dozens held as ‘anti-protest’ law kicks in on handover anniversary

(FASTNEWS | COLOMBO) –

Dozens of people have been arrested in Hong Kong, including a man carrying a pro-independence flag, after a new “anti-protest” law imposed by Beijing came into effect, officials say.

Police have used pepper spray to disperse some protesters gathered to mark 23 years since British rule ended.

The national security law targets secession, subversion and terrorism with punishments up to life in prison.

Critics say it stops some freedoms meant to be guaranteed by China.

Hong Kong’s sovereignty was handed back to China by Britain in 1997, under an agreement designed to protect certain freedoms for at least 50 years.

The annual pro-democracy march to mark the anniversary had been banned for the first time by authorities, who cited a bar on gatherings of more than 50 people because of Covid-19.

Police confronted a small group of demonstrators gathered in the city centre and at least 30 people were arrested for “unlawful assembly, violating the security law, obstructing police and possession of weapons”.

Those arrested included a man carrying a “Hong Kong Independence” flag – protesters have been warned certain slogans and banners might constitute serious crimes under the new law.

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