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Hong Kong Police Urge Residents to Stay Away from Unauthorized Rallies

People attend a protest in Hong Kong, Aug. 30, 2019.

A major protest planned for Saturday was called off by organizers after an appeals board denied permission for the demonstration.

It is not clear whether some protesters would still demonstrate on their own.

On Friday, two prominent pro-democracy activists were granted bail after being arrested and charged with inciting people to join an unauthorized protest in June.

Joshua Wong, founder of the political party Demosisto, and Agnes Chow, also of Demosisto, were arrested Friday morning.

Pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow leave the Eastern Court after being released on bail in Hong Kong, Aug. 30, 2019.
Pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow leave the Eastern Court after being released on bail in Hong Kong, Aug. 30, 2019.

Demosisto, which advocates for greater democracy in Hong Kong, said on its official Twitter account that Wong “was suddenly pushed into a private car on the street.” Chow was arrested at her home.

Wong was a prominent figure of Hong Kong’s Umbrella movement for full democracy during protests in 2014 that paralyzed parts of the city for 79 days. In June, he was released from jail after serving a five-week term for contempt of court.

On Thursday, police also arrested Andy Chan, a founder of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party on suspicion of “participating in riots” and “attacking police” during a protest July 13.

Intense China response

In an interview with VOA, Wong said protesters are “afraid of Beijing” and that China’s response to the current protests is much more intense than its approach to the Umbrella Movement.

“During the Umbrella Movement, the police fired 80 to 90 [rounds of] tear gas in Hong Kong. Now, they fired 2,000 [rounds of] tear gas in Hong Kong. So, we experienced a stronger crackdown on human rights,” he said.

Police have arrested about 900 protesters since the demonstrations, generally peaceful, began in June to stop a now-suspended extradition bill that would allow for sending criminal suspects to mainland China for trial.

The protests have evolved into a movement for democratic reforms, but have recently turned violent, with protesters clashing with police.

Beijing has positioned paramilitary forces at Hong Kong’s border as part of its campaign to suppress the protests. Wong declared the move “is not a solution to silence the voices of the protesters.”

Another Tiananmen

Wong warned it is “time for people to be aware that perhaps another Tiananmen Massacre may happen in Hong Kong,” a reference to the deadly 1989 student-led demonstrations in Beijing. “So the world’s leaders should support the Hong Kong people with [their] solidarity.”

Wong also told VOA his invitation to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping still stands.

“President Xi should come to Hong Kong and meet with the protesters, not only meeting with me. If he comes to the crowd of the protesters, I think the protesters will chat with him and express the voices of the Hong Kong people.”