Hong Kong media reported that police briefly detained a man in a Liverpool team jersey who shouted “long live Liverpool” during anti-government protests on Wednesday, over suspicion that he was inciting independence.
In-Media reported that the man was across the street from police officers who were conducting stop-and-searches on a group of protesters, when he shouted: “Long live Liverpool.” Others reportedly cheered and joined in the chant, before officers detained him.
The man told In-Media that police had accused him of inciting Hong Kong independence, which now is a punishable crime.
He said that he has been a fan of the English soccer club for 30 years and “felt an urge” to voice his feelings over their recent Premier League win, but 10 minutes after his initial detention, he was released.
Thousands marched on Wednesday in defiance of protest bans and police warnings that acts of secession — including waving pro-independence flags or shouting slogans — could see them charged. They were met with tear gas, water cannon, pepper spray and pepper balls.
The national security legislation, enacted in just six weeks in an opaque legislative process in Beijing, went into effect at 11pm on Tuesday. The full details of the legislation were published afterward.
On Wednesday afternoon, Hong Kong Secretary for Security John Lee defended police arresting people under legislation that no one is familiar with.
“We will do education, but if something has outrageously broken the Hong Kong legislation, then the police have a duty to take action,” he said.
Lee was explicit about the legislation’s aims to crush any community sentiments for independence.
“With education prevention and enforcement, we can turn the tide to let people know that protection on national security is everybody’s responsibility, and that advocacy for independence in Hong Kong is against the law,” Lee said.
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