Hong Kong Police Reject Labor Group’s Request for May 1 March

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong police rejected an application by a pro-democracy labor group to hold a march on May 1, citing concerns about public health and security risks, the government said in a statement on Friday.

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions had proposed to hold the march in groups of four spaced at least 1.5 meters apart. It expressed concern in a Facebook post that the police were using laws against gathering to suppress freedom of expression and called for a detailed explanation.

“We will appeal and are in talks with lawyers,” Carol Ng, chairperson of the confederation said in a video posted on the group’s Facebook page. “We understand the need to balance public health and to continue with the anti-gathering measures.’’

Police regarded public meetings and processions as “high-risk activities with crowd gatherings,” according to the government statement. They cited the increased risk of spreading coronavirus among participants as well as concerns about public safety.

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters staged a demonstration at a luxury downtown mall at lunchtime on Friday in defiance of the ban on gatherings of more than four people. About 100 people rallied at the International Finance Centre in Central in one of the largest protests since the coronavirus outbreak began earlier this year.

Hong Kong police arrested 15 pro-democracy activists and a lawmaker last week in connection with an unauthorized assembly last year. The action came after China’s Liaison Office, Beijing’s representative in Hong Kong, asserted its right to intervene in the city’s affairs.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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