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Hong Kong police arrests dozens of anti-government protesters

Demonstrators hit the streets on Friday night despite police warning they risked arrest for unauthorised assembly and could face five years in jail.

SNS | New Delhi |

Hong Kong police detained dozens of anti-government protesters as hundreds defied a health ban against large gatherings across the city to mark the June 12 anniversary of the first major clashes that launched last years social unrest, according to the media report on Saturday.

Demonstrators hit the streets on Friday night despite police warning they risked arrest for unauthorised assembly and could face five years in jail, reports the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper.

The protesters sang the anthem of the protest movement, “Glory to Hong Kong”, and chanted slogans.

As of Saturday morning, the police said that 43 people – 28 men and 15 women – had been arrested over offences such as wounding, taking part in an unauthorised assembly, misconduct in a public place and possession of offensive weapons.

Earlier this week, hundreds of protesters gathered in central Hong Kong to mark a year of sustained pro-democracy rallies as fears over looming national security legislation have reignited unrest in the global financial hub.

Some protesters were holding placards that read, “We can’t breathe! Free HK” and “Young lives matter”, nods to U.S. protests against police brutality sparked by the death of black American George Floyd.

Last year on June 9, an estimated more than one million protesters took to the streets against proposed legislation to allow extraditions to mainland China, where the courts are controlled by the Communist Party.

The controversial China extradition bill was withdrawn in September 2019 but the movement has morphed into a wider campaign for greater democracy and against alleged police brutality.

On Monday, almost 9,000 people, aged between 11 and 84, were arrested in protests over the past year, the police said, adding that more than 600 were charged with rioting.

More protests are planned in coming days and union leaders have said they intend to hold a referendum among their members on Sunday on whether to launch a city-wide strike.