Hong Kong introduces emergency powers to ban face masks in protests

Hong Kong introduces emergency powers to ban face masks in protests

Hong Kong will ban masking public demonstrations as part of emergency powers announced on Friday, as violent protests sometimes continue in favor of democracy in the semi-autonomous region.

Beijing-backed city leader Carrie Lam said at a press conference that the ban on face masks, which many protesters use to hide their identities, would apply at midnight local time.

"We have seen that almost all the protesters have committed acts of vandalism and violence," Lam told reporters.

"We believe that a ban on regulation covering your face will be an effective deterrent to radical behavior and will also help police enforce the law," he said.

If convicted, the protesters could face a maximum sentence of 25,000 Hong Kong dollars ($ 3,187) and a one-year prison sentence, Hong Kong's Department of Information Services said in a statement.

If they refuse to comply with the police to remove the cover from the face, they could face 10,000 Hong Kong dollars ($ 1,275) and six months of imprisonment, according to a demonstrative statement.

He said reasonable reasons for covering a person's face include pre-existing medical or health reasons, religious or professional reasons.

Before the new rule was ratified, protests against it began throughout the Asian Financial Center, with hundreds of office workers gathered to march wearing masks.

"After several months, the government refused to respond to our demands," said a guard, who asked to be identified only as Chan at a demonstration in the city's central district.

The 27-year-old financial industry activist said, "Police brutality is becoming more serious and the creation of an anti-masking law threatens to oppose us."

Many people in Hong Kong wear masks daily to protect themselves from cold and flu. Lam said that he had taken this into consideration.

"Regulation will be aimed at those who use violence, we understand that there may be other people who have to wear masks or cover their faces due to legitimate need," he said. ""

However, it was unclear how the government planned to implement the ban or how simple it would be to evaluate "legitimate" usage.

Lam stressed that the new regulation did not mean that Hong Kong was in a state of emergency, but hoped that the public would understand the need for a ban.

"I hope the public supports and understands what we are doing," he said.

Many do not. Leading activist Joshua Wong tweeted that Friday's announcement could lead to more powers, such as arbitrary arrests.

"I urge the international community to know whether de-martial martial law can be implemented in Hong Kong in the next few hours or in the next few days," Wong told reporters.

Anti-government demonstrations kept the former British colony under control for months, putting it in the biggest political crisis in decades and representing a popular challenge for Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The protesters are angry at what they see as progressive interference from Beijing in the affairs of their city, despite the promise of autonomy in the formula of "one country, two systems", according to which Hong Kong returned to China in 1997.

China dismissed allegations that were noticeable and accused foreign governments, including the United States and Great Britain, of instigating anti-Chinese sentiment.

Lam said on Friday that about 1,100 people have been injured so far and about 300 of them are police officers.

What began as a protest against a proposed extradition law that could have sent people to trial in mainland China's courts has now been filed, one of five lawsuits, including universal prosecutions and alleged police investigations Are included. Toughness

Demonstrators with gas masks and helmets, some marched in front of the city's most expensive real estate on Friday, including the headquarters of British bank HSBC, and "five lawsuits, no less."

Protests have been ignited by the police firing of a high school student on Tuesday during protests, and more protests are expected later in the evening and weekends.

Police said the officer involved in the shooting acted in self-defense as his life was in danger. The teen, the first guard killed by fire alive during the riot months, remains in hospital under stable conditions.

Lam said that although the increase in violence, the use of deadly weapons and the theft of police guns meant that police had "no choice but to use firearms to try to save themselves."

During the night, riot police marched through Hong Kong districts, firing tear gas at a singing crowd in a residential area, while rail operator MTR Corp closed down several stations, escalating the violence.