2020.01.01 Civil Human Rights Front New Year Rally
The New Year Rally organized by Civil Human Rights Front originally obtained the Letter of No Objection from the police. However, the police ordered the rally to be ended after clashes between police and protesters in Wan Chai. The Civil Human Rights Front suggested that there were 1.03 million citizens participated in the rally, which was one-seventh of Hong Kong’s population. However, the police claimed that there were only 60 thousand people set off from or waited at Victoria Park. At night, the police were trying to arrest protesters at several places, they dispatched tear gas, Unimog armoured personnel carrier and water cannon truck to disperse citizens. At Causeway Bay, approximately four hundred citizens were stopped and searched near SOGO. Some of the HSBC’s branches in Hong Kong Island were damaged, and the lion statues at the HSBC headquarters were set on fire. The spokesman of Hong Kong government reiterated that the human rights and freedom were both well-protected by the law, ignoring the Five Demands from protesters when they were responding the massive rally.
The rally started earlier at 2:40pm. Yet, the police had already taken action to arrest protesters at Southorn Playground in Wan Chai before the rally began. The police announced that five men were arrested separately in Wan Chai and Eastern District for ‘Possession of offensive weapons’ at noon. One of the arrested persons was just 13 years old.
Several newly established unions were setting up their street counters at Southorn Playground. The Hong Kong Confederations of Trade Unions criticized that the police was suppressing those unions, they said that ‘Police was used as a tool to suppress others once again. They surround the street counters of a union for construction workers! They obstructed us from recruiting new members at the counters!’
At about 4pm, clashes broke out at around Wan Chai. At 5:30pm, the Civil Human Rights Front was told by the police to halt the rally immediately and demanded those participants of it to dismiss. The Civil Human Rights Front then announced 15 minutes later that they were required by the police to dismiss all protesters before 6:15pm.
After the rally being suspended, clashes broke out at several locations at night, with many people being arrested. At King’s Centre, North Point, the police launched tear gases and fired water cannon at barricades. Tear gases were also released beneath the Canal Road Flyover in Causeway Bay. At the same time, protesters threw molotov cocktails at Central MTR Station. Water cannon was fired at the barricades and the police dispatched the Unimog armoured personnel carrier. At Fok Tak Temple in Tai Hang, the police detained and searched 12 citizens in a dark alley, they were all ordered to face the wall and press their hands against the wall.
At 8pm, almost four hundred citizens were stopped and searched at SOGO in Causeway Bay. They were demanded to face the wall, kneel down and put their hands on their heads. The police obstructed the journalists from covering the scene by evicting them, so that it was almost impossible for the reporters to cover the scene of 400 people being searched.