Canada Hong Kong: Carrie Lam hails the "return of peace" for the Chinese National Day

10:20  01 october  2020
10:20  01 october  2020 Source:   sports.fr

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Des bateaux de pêche portant des slogans et des drapeaux chinois naivguent en formation dans la baie de Hong Kong à l'occasion de la fête nationale chinoise, le 1er octobre 2020 © Jayne RUSSELL Fishing boats carrying Chinese slogans and flags float in formation in Hong Kong Bay on the occasion of Chinese National Day, October 1, 2020

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Thursday hailed the "return of peace" to the city, on the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China marked by the mobilization of thousands of police officers to prevent any important gathering of the pro-democracy movement.

Des militants de la League of Social Democrats, dont Leung Kwok-hung, également connu sous le nom de 'Long Hair' (long cheveux, deuxième à gauche), manifestent sous étroite surveillance policière, à Hong Kong le 1er octobre 2020 © May JAMES League of Social Democrats activists, including Leung Kwok-hung, also known as 'Long Hair' (long hair, second from left), demonstrate under close police surveillance in Hong Kong on the 1st October 2020

The People's Republic of China celebrates its creation every October 1, a public holiday that gives rise to highly supervised official festivities. Thousands of riot police were mobilized to prevent any large-scale demonstration.

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Hong Kong 's leader Carrie Lam has said the government will "seriously reflect" after local elections saw massive gains by pro-democracy candidates. It is being seen as a stinging rebuke of Ms Lam 's leadership and a show of support for the protest movement.

In the former British colony, this holiday is also an opportunity for part of the population to express their anger against Beijing's desire to reverse the freedoms guaranteed as part of the agreement to surrender it to the China in 1997.

Protests have mostly been banned since the start of the year in Hong Kong, when a draconian national security law, imposed by Beijing, came into force in June.

Helicopters displaying Chinese and Hong Kong flags flew over the territory in the morning as Ms. Lam and Chinese officials participated in a commemoration at the exhibition center, under close protection from law enforcement.

“Over the past few months, an indisputable fact for everyone is that our society is once again at peace,” Ms. Lam said in her speech. "The national security of our country has been protected in Hong Kong and our citizens can once again exercise their rights and freedoms according to the laws."

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- 6,000 police officers mobilized -

Last year, the 70th anniversary gave rise to violent clashes between demonstrators and police. Authorities have banned all demonstrations this year, for security reasons and the fight against the coronavirus which prevents public gatherings of more than four people.

Ms. Lam, appointed by Beijing, also invoked the virus to postpone the legislative elections which were to take place in early September to July. It is one of the few ballots that allows Hong Kongers to vote.

A police source told AFP that 6,000 police officers were mobilized on Thursday, double the number of personnel normally requisitioned when the authorities expect demonstrations.

Throughout the morning, groups of well-known activists from the pro-democracy movement gathered in small groups of no more than four people.

One of them chanted "Put an end to the one-party rule", near the exhibition center where the official ceremony was taking place, surrounded by around forty police officers.

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Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said the controversial bill that would have allowed extradition to the Chinese mainland "is dead". At a press conference on Tuesday, Ms Lam said the government's work on the bill had been a "total failure". But she stopped short of saying it had been fully withdrawn, and

Carrie Lam , Hong Kong ’s chief executive, left the Legislative Council chamber on Wednesday after 1, China ’s National Day .Credit Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times. On July 1, the anniversary of Hong Kong ’s return to Chinese rule, demonstrators besieged and smashed their way into the offices

Four others gathered in front of the Liaison Office, which houses the Chinese central government relays in Hong Kong.

"In today's China, those who want freedom are repressed while those who repress it are in power," activist Lee Cheuk-yan told reporters.

- "Prevent troublemakers" -

The day before, Liaison Office Director Luo Huining gave a speech calling for more patriotism in Hong Kong, saying that being proud of the motherland is a duty .

On Thursday morning, the police were very present across the city, carrying out searches and numerous checks.

Five people were arrested this week on suspicion of inciting demonstrations and of having committed violent acts.

A request for authorization to demonstrate had been filed by the Civil Human Rights Front, the coalition which organized the major demonstrations in favor of democracy last year, to demand the release of a group of twelve inhabitants of Hong Kong detained in China.

This group tried to escape to the island of Taiwan by boat but was intercepted by the Chinese Coast Guard.

Since the beginning of the year, it has been almost impossible to organize demonstrations in the city.

During the rare gatherings that took place, the riot police and plainclothes police quickly intervened: in a single day at the beginning of September nearly 300 people were arrested.

More than 10,000 people have been arrested for participating in protests over the past 16 months, along with several pro-democracy leaders.

The entry into force of the law on national security helped to put an end to the protest movement that rocked the territory last year.

It represses in particular secession and subversion, by providing for particularly severe penalties.

Condemned by many Western countries, it is considered necessary by Beijing and Hong Kong to restore stability.

She "will prevent troublemakers in Hong Kong from freaking out," the Liaison Office said this week.

jta / axn / juf / pz

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