And while police refused a permit for a proposed march, riot police conducted stop and search operations along what was to be the route on Thursday.
Police were seen rounding up more than 50 people downtown and binding their wrists with plexicuffs before putting them on buses. Police said in a Facebook post that they were looking for two men who threw petrol bombs to block traffic in another part of town.
In the air, helicopters flying the Chinese and Hong Kong flags hovered over the port where Lam, the territory’s director general, and senior mainland officials, attended an official national day ceremony amid heightened security.
“Over the past few months, an indisputable fact in front of everyone is that our society has returned to peace,” Lam said.
“The national security of our country has been protected in Hong Kong and our citizens can once again exercise their rights and freedoms in accordance with the laws,” she added.
Anti-government protests, which have turned violent often in 2019, have declined this year thanks to coronavirus restrictions on group gatherings and the National Security Law imposed by Beijing on June 30.
“The conventional protests in Hong Kong are now essentially over, the combined effects of the coronavirus along with the new security law mean we are not seeing a repeat of the big protests of a year ago,” Adrian Brown said of ‘Al Jazeera, recalling the level of violence during the October 2019 protests when an activist involved in anti-government protests was gunned down by police in the chest.
“We don’t see anything like it now, but the sentiment behind the move is still pretty much there,” Brown said, reporting from Hong Kong. “It’s just that people have to be more creative and inventive in the way they protest,” he added, pointing to the people who ran the most popular newspaper in town, held by a recently arrested man. due to the new security law.
A provocative protester said she would try to keep fighting.
“It’s China’s national day, but it’s the day of the death in Hong Kong,” Jay, a woman dressed in black, wearing the city’s protest outfit, said as she walked past police. “The Hong Kong people are under a lot of pressure, but we must try to keep fighting for freedom.”
On the rare occasions when there are demonstrations, the police rush in quickly – last month nearly 300 people were arrested, according to the AFP news agency.
More than 10,000 people have been arrested since the 2019 protests began and the courts are now filled with cases related to the protests and the campaign for democracy.
“Even if they try to stop us, chase us and lock us in jail, there is no reason for us to surrender,” activist Joshua Wong told reporters on Wednesday.
There have been online calls for protests in several districts after police rejected a request from the Civil Human Rights Front, which mobilized millions last year, to hold a rally citing COVID -19 and violence during the previous marches.
It is not known how many people would participate in the protests.
“I don’t think protesting is an effective way to express my opinion because the government is trying every method to quell the protests,” said Lee, 22, as she watched a group of police officers from the other. across the street.
The Hong Kong government has also blamed the pandemic for its decision to delay by a year the legislative council elections which were due to take place last month and in which pro-democracy candidates are expected to do well.
Four members of the League of Social Democrats, led by veteran activist Leung Kwok-hung, known as Long Hair, marched. holding a banner that reads: “There is no celebration of the national holiday, only a national mourning.” Four is the maximum number of people allowed to congregate under the coronavirus restrictions.
The national holiday is felt by many democracy supporters in Hong Kong who claim Beijing is eroding the vast freedoms the former British colony was promised for at least 50 years when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
For pro-Beijing supporters, this is an opportunity to spark patriotism in China’s most turbulent city.
The South China Morning Post newspaper reported earlier this week that some 6,000 police would be deployed in the event of protests on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government has honored many police officers in its list of honors, including awards for their bravery in handling protests.
The government awarded a total of 687 awards – nearly 300 more than last year – and around a dozen officers received medals of bravery for their response to what has been described as “ferocious assaults” by “rioters”, according to the public television channel RTHK.
Over 50, including senior officers Rupert Dover and David Jordan who remained after the end of the British regime, received the CEO’s Commendation for Public Service for their “outstanding contributions to social incident management” .
– Galileo Cheng (@galileocheng) September 30, 2020
An independent investigation into political brutality at pro-democracy rallies is one of the protesters’ five key demands.
Benedict Rogers, founder and managing director of London-based Hong Kong Watch, described the executive awards as a “scandal”.
“These senior cops should be prosecuted and punished, not honored,” he wrote on Twitter.