Hong Kong police have on Saturday banned a major protest against China’s looming national security law for the city which critics fear would smother the financial hub’s treasured freedoms, organisers said.
According to AFP, the Hong Kong Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) said the Police had rejected its applications for rallies on Jul 1, the 23rd anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to China.
Police excused the ban for the proposed march, citing a possible risk of violence, as well as severe threats to public health due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CHRF, which was responsible for some of last year’s unprecedented million-people demonstrations, said they would appeal the decision.
In May, Beijing announced a draft national security law – which will bypass Hong Kong’s legislature – to tackle “terrorism” and “separatism”.
The law will enforce punishment for subversion and other offences in Hong Kong, but critics see it as potential knock-out blow for freedoms and autonomy enjoyed by the city.
The controversial law has come under international fire, as US President Trump called it an infringement on the autonomy of Hong Kong.
The European Union also warned China it would face “very negative consequences” if it pressed ahead with the new law.
The law is expected to be voted on during a National People’s Congress Standing Committee meeting to be held from Sunday to Tuesday.