China National Day: Hong Kong peace 'is an illusion'

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While 1 October, 2019 was marked by protests and tear gas, this year there were no such scenes
One year ago, Hong Kong saw one of its most violent days on 1 October as the pro-democracy movement raged, but this year the city was largely silent.The date marks the founding of the People's Republic of China, widely celebrated on the mainland.In 2019, it was called "day of mourning" by Hong Kong protesters worried about China's growing control.This year, a Beijing-imposed security law and coronavirus have put a stop to most protests.Requests for demonstrations were not granted by the authorities - with the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns cited as reasons.
Proponents of the security law say it was required to quell the kind of violence that was seen in Hong Kong for several months last year.
What happened in 2020[/img]

Thursday's flag ceremony and a few pro-China supporters
Amid tight security and stepped up riot police presence, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam hailed that "stability has been restored to society while national security has been safeguarded, and our people can continue to enjoy their basic rights and freedoms".But while fear stopped many from protesting, some Hong Kongers did not hesitate to tell reporters what they really thought. "Today is a day for national mourning," Mr Choi told Reuters. "What should we celebrate for?""A lot of people want to voice out their demands peacefully," Roger Tsang said but that the "severe police brutality" was threatening people into silence. "The co-called "peacefulness" is an illusion."
Police warned against unlawful protests
And protests were not entirely muted. Several small activists groups sporadically gathered to protest and chant slogans in Causeway Bay.Officials say that at least 86 people were arrested, most of them for unauthorised assembly.
What has changed since last year?
In response to the past years' repeated waves of protests, Beijing this summer introduced a wide-ranging new security law for Hong Kong.It introduces heavy penalties - up to life in prison - for offences including subversion and secession.
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Critics have called it "the end of Hong Kong", saying it effectively curtails protests and freedom of speech.But supporters say it was needed to stamp out the chaos of anti-government protests.The law came, which came into effect on 1 July 2020, has already been invoked in a string of arrests and several prominent pro-democracy activists have fled the country for fear of arrest.Just this week, the US said it would prioritise Hong Kongers - along with citizens from several other countries - for its refugee admission programme.
What did 2019 look like?
In 2019, the protests escalated into violent clashes
On 1 October, while Beijing was celebrating 70 years of Communist Party rule, Hong Kong experienced one of its most "violent and chaotic days".Demonstrations had started peacefully but escalated when the police used tear gas and water cannons to drive back groups of protesters who fought officers with poles, petrol bombs and other projectiles.An 18-year-old was shot in the chest with a live bullet and at least 66 people were injured during the clashes.
China National Day: Hong Kong peace 'is an illusion'

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Footage of the shooting shows the police officer fire one bullet at close range
The protests and violence had raged for months in Hong Kong with mass demonstrations calling for democracy and less influence from Beijing. Large rallies repeatedly descended from peaceful protest into prolonged clashes between small groups of frontline protesters and police. A former British colony, Hong Kong is part of China but residents of Hong Kong prize civil liberties such as free speech, the right to protest and an entirely independent and robust judiciary, as permitted in the Basic Law.
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