Hong Kong police chief on Friday appealed to demonstrators who will be joining a mass rally and march approved for Sunday to reject violence as he called on organisers to be proactive in condemning disorder if it breaks out.
Police have signed off a march and rally organised by the Civil Human Rights Front – which is behind the city’s largest anti-government demonstrations – for the first time since August, South China Morning Post newspaper reported.
Last month, Chris Tang was promoted to police commissioner is expected to be in charge of operations on Sunday.
He warned that the force would intervene if protesters ignored his pleas for a “peaceful and orderly” demonstration.
The mass rally and march on Sunday is the first organised by the front to secure permission from police since August 18.
Earlier in the month, the city’s embattled leader Carrie Lam lost ranks with China and condemned the US Senate’s passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which she lambasted as unnecessary and unjustified.
The city’s pro-democracy protesters came back to the streets for a series of marches and rallies after a rare period of calm in nearly six months of unrest.
Police had issued permits called “letters of no objection” for all three events, including a morning rally for children and seniors which went ahead without incident, and the post urged people to remain peaceful.
In November, China had accused UK human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet of “inappropriate” interference in the country’s affairs, after she called for investigations into alleged excessive use of force by police in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s protests started nearly six months ago in June against proposals to allow extradition to mainland China, a move many feared would undermine the city’s judicial independence and endanger dissidents.
In 2018, the Hong Kong government had disqualified the candidacy of another pro-democracy activist, Agnes Chow, for the Legislative Council by-election in March of the same year due to her stance on advocating self-determination for the former British colony.
The controversial China extradition bill was withdrawn in early September but the movement has morphed into a wider campaign for greater democracy and against alleged police brutality.