Hong Kong police fire pepper balls at protesters, 90 arrested

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Police fire pepper balls at protesters, nab radio DJ for 'uttering seditious words'

HONG KONG: Police fired rounds of pepper balls at protesters in Hong Kong yesterday as hundreds took to the streets to demonstrate against the postponement of legislative elections and a new national security law imposed by China.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam postponed the Sept 6 election for seats in the Legislative Council for a year in July because of a spike in coronavirus cases.

The move dealt a blow to the pro-democracy opposition who had hoped to win a historic majority in the Council, where only half the seats are directly elected and the other half are appointed.

"Today is supposedly our voting day, we need to resist to fight back for our vote," said a 70-year old woman surnamed Wong as she marched with other demonstrators.

The poll would have been the former British colony's first official vote since Beijing imposed new security legislation in late June.

The government insists there was no political motive behind the delay.

Thousands of police were stationed around the bustling Kowloon peninsula as marchers waved placards and chanted slogans such as "liberate Hong Kong".

Such slogans are now banned under the new law.

Police said they arrested at least 90 people, mainly for illegal gatherings, in a notice on their Facebook page.

One woman was detained under the new security law Beijing imposed on the city for chanting independence slogans, the police added.

Live images showed prominent pro-democracy politicians Leung Kwok-hung, Figo Chan and Raphael Wong among those held.

The protests came hours after the police's newly formed national security unit arrested Mr Tam Tak-chi, another democracy activist and radio DJ, for "uttering seditious words" - a colonial era offence.

Mr Tam is the latest in a long line of government critics to find themselves facing prosecution in recent months for their involvement in protests.

When they announced the arrest yesterday morning, police did not explain what Mr Tam said that was considered seditious. - REUTERS, AFP