Riot police arrest and search pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong on July 21, 2020. - Kin Cheung / AP / SIPA

Beijing continues to show its inflexibility on the Hong Kong file. Riot police carried out a large-scale operation Tuesday in a town in the territory to prevent activists from commemorating a pro-democracy protest that was attacked by pro-government groups a year ago.

Banner against banner

Police have issued loudspeaker warnings warning of “illegal gatherings”. Responding to a protester who held up a banner proclaiming "Free Hong Kong," police deployed their own banner warning protesters that they were violating the new security law.

At least five arrests

Police officers used pepper spray to disperse small groups of protesters and journalists at a shopping mall in Yuen Long, near the border with the rest of China. Hundreds of people were stopped and searched throughout the night and police said they had made at least five arrests. In total, police issued 79 tickets for violating anti-coronavirus measures that prohibit gatherings of more than four people.

The attack on Yuen Long subway station a year ago marked a turning point in the protest movement that rocked the territory last year. Gangs of men armed with sticks, metal rods and bats, mostly wearing white T-shirts, had swooped down on protesters returning to their homes after another monster protest. The attack of July 21, 2019 left almost 50 injured, including passers-by, some seriously injured. Many voices were then raised to criticize the police, accused of having delayed reacting.


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