Four pro-democracy activists staged a march through Wan Chai on Thursday morning, demanding universal suffrage for the entire country, as Hong Kong marked its first-ever "National Security Education Day".
The activists, from the League of Social Democrats (LSD) and the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, say on Thursday the nation can be safe only with safeguards on people’s human rights, such as freedom of speech and association.
"We cannot let the government dominate what is meant by national security. A nation exists for its people - it doesn't exist to suppress its people and deprive them of their rights," says Chow Hang-tung, the vice chair of the Alliance.
She said since the national security law was imposed on Hong Kong in June last year, many groups had disbanded, people had migrated to other places or gone into exile, while press and academic freedom here had rapidly deteriorated.
"Everything's been in decline. [The law's] actually a weapon of mass destruction for Hong Kong I'd say. The government always criticise the activists and the pro-democracy camp for destabilising Hong Kong. I think it's the government and the national security law that's done so," Chow told reporters.
The groups also say Beijing’s overhaul of Hong Kong's election system ensures political security for those in power but doesn't ensure the safety of the people.
Chow called for “political prisoners” throughout China to be freed, saying it's saddening that Hong Kong has so many such prisoners, less than a year after the national security law was enacted.
They say the law should be abolished, arguing that it had effectively destroyed rights protections guaranteed under the Basic Law.
During the protest, the group was surrounded by more than 30 police officers along the way, but were allowed to continue their march after their bags were searched and their ID cards checked.
The LSD’s Figo Chan said he didn't understand why some police blocked journalists from taking photographs of their protest banners, saying he’d never before seen such behaviour.
The group marched from Wan Chai MTR station to an area opposite the Wan Chai Convention and Exhibition Centre, where a ceremony marking the SAR’s first official "National Security Education Day" was being held.
Last updated: 2021-04-15 HKT 10:43
Protest marks National Security Education Day
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