Civil Human Rights Front convener Figo Chan (陳皓桓) yesterday said that he would lead a march today in Hong Kong, despite permission being denied by police, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) reported.
Demonstrators planned to walk from Tsim Sha Tsui to the express rail terminus in West Kowloon before the police banned the march.
They could face arrest, but protesters have had to deal with risks, regardless of police permission, RTHK cited Chan as saying.
Pro-democracy protesters late on Friday donned cartoon character masks and mocked China’s leaders while forming human chains in defiance of a ban on face coverings at public assemblies.
Gathering along the city’s subway lines, many protest supporters masqueraded as Winnie the Pooh or Guy Fawkes. They held up phone lights and chanted slogans calling for a “revolution of our times” — a call of the five-month movement that has shaken the semi-autonomous Chinese city with violent confrontations between protesters and police.
Chinese Internet users have joked that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) resembles the talking bear, leading the country’s censors to scrub online references to the character.
Fawkes masks have come to represent anti-government protests around the world.
The protesters were taking a lighthearted approach to oppose the Hong Kong government’s decision this month to invoke British colonial-era emergency regulations banning masks at rallies as it struggles to contain the protests.
The peaceful event came ahead of a mass rally that organizers are planning today to press their demands.
Police refused to authorize the march, citing risks to public safety and order, but protesters have previously ignored such rejections.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) has said the ban on masks, which have become a hallmark of the protests, is aimed at deterring radical behavior.
Offenders can be punished by up to a year in prison.
However, the protesters say they wear them out of fear of retribution and concern that their identities will be shared with China’s massive state security apparatus.
This month, two police shootings that injured teenage protesters, the stabbing of a police officer, and the detonation of a small, remote-controlled bomb close to police officers ratcheted up violence to levels unprecedented since the former British colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.
Some protesters on Friday assumed the identity of Xi or Hong Kong’s deeply unpopular Beijing-backed leader. Others wore masks depicting Pepe the Frog, a character that has become a symbol for the Hong Kong protesters.
At least one protester parodied NBA basketball star LeBron James, who has been criticized for caving to China’s communist leaders after he suggested free speech can have consequences, following a now-deleted tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in support of the protests..
The protesters’ aim was to form human chains extending 40km across Hong Kong by tracing the city’s subway system, mimicking a similar event in August. It was unclear whether they achieved that. There were gaps in a part of the chain in one downtown location.
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