Fifty-three demonstrators arrested after ignoring ban on gatherings to mark one year of protests
More than 50 people were arrested in Hong Kong on Tuesday night after thousands of protesters took to the streets in defiance of a police order to mark the first anniversary of the anti-government movement.
Police riot units used pepper spray and repeatedly charged at crowds in an attempt to disperse protesters gathered near the business district of Central, occupying roads and blocking traffic until well after midnight.
In a statement, police said 53 people had been arrested for participating in an illegal assembly. The force said it had used “minimum necessary force” to disperse protesters who defied orders to leave.
People first gathered in the Chater Garden park in Central in the early evening. They began chanting slogans but dozens of riot police descended on them, conducting body searches and ordering people to leave.
A man who swore at police officers was arrested. Crowds were dispersed and began gathering on pavements. Later, protesters formed a line and began marching, yelling slogans and waving banners as they spilled on to the main thoroughfares.
“Hong Kong independence, the only way!” and “Rejuvenate Hong Kong, revolution of our era!” were among the slogans being chanted by the crowd, many of whom were holding up their mobile phones with torchlights and umbrellas in anticipation of police firing teargas. Police raised blue flags to warn the crowds against taking part in an unauthorised assembly.
Riot police charged at the crowds at about 7.30pm local time and chased protesters along the main street. Police tackled some to the ground and made several arrests. Crowds began to shout anti-police slogans while police formed a line and marched down the streets.
“It’s very emotional today, it feels like the people’s spirit has not been broken,” said a protester in his 40s who declined to give his name. “It shows that it’s all still there and that’s really heartwarming. It’s tough but there is still a sense of hope among everyone here.”
“We fight for freedom but we fight for our Hong Kong, a free place where we have our identity, but that’s been stripped away,” he said.