HK riot police chase democracy protesters through malls
HONG KONG: Riot police chased protesters through Hong Kong shopping malls yesterday as democracy activists launched Mother's Day flash mob rallies calling for independence and the city's leader to resign.
Thecity was convulsed by seven straight months of often-violent pro-democracy protests last year with millions hitting the streets.
The pandemic ushered in a period of enforced calm.
But with the finance hub successfully tackling its outbreak, small protests have bubbled up once more in the last fortnight.
Small flash mob demonstrations broke out in at least eight malls yesterday afternoon, prompting riot police to rush in and disperse heckling crowds of activists and shoppers.
At least three arrests were made while officers conducted multiple stop and searches.
Live broadcasts also showed police issuing HK$2,000 (S$360) on-the-spot fines to those allegedly breaching emergency anti-virus measures banning more than eight people gathering in public.
Protesters chat groups had pushed the occasion to focus on Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
The authorities banned an application for a Mother's Day march so small groups of masked protesters instead played cat and mouse with police in shopping centres, a tactic used frequently last year.
"This is just a warm-up, our protest movement needs to start again," a university student said.
"It is a sign that the movement is coming back to life. We all need to wake up now."
Mrs Lam has record low approval ratings.
She has resisted calls for universal suffrage or an independent inquiry into the police's handling of the protests.
In the new year, she vowed to heal the divisions, but her administration has offered little in the way of reconciliation or a political solution.
Plans to pass a law banning insulting China's national anthem sparked scuffles in the city's legislature on Friday.
Top Beijing officials have suggested opposition lawmakers who blocked the Bill with filibustering could be prosecuted and have also called for a new anti-sedition law to be passed. - AFP