Silver-haired sit-in, face mask party protests planned for Hong Kong

Silver-haired sit-in, face mask party protests planned for Hong Kong

"Grandpa Wong" shielding protesters from the police by holding his walking stick
"Silver-haired" protesters during a demonstration in the Tung Chung district in Hong Kong. (Photo: Vivek Prakash/AFP)

HONG KONG: Several protests are planned for Hong Kong on Saturday (Oct 12) reflecting the widespread anger at the government, ranging from an elderly sit-in, a face mask party, a shopping mall demonstration and an anti-emergency law street march.

Hong Kong's protests started in opposition to a now-abandoned extradition Bill but have mushroomed in four months into a movement for more rights and an outlet for anger at social inequality in the Asian financial hub.

Hong Kong has experienced relative calm since last weekend, when a peaceful march by tens of thousands spiralled into a night of running battles between protesters and police.

READ: Hong Kong protesters defy mask ban as city grinds to halt

Since then there have only been small nightly protests and activists have not flagged any major action this weekend.

The protests have plunged the city into its worst crisis since Britain handed it back to China in 1997 and is the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

A group calling itself the "Silver-Haired Marchers" plans a 48-hour sit-in at police headquarters from Saturday.

"Whilst we may not be able to fight alongside the young protesters in the frontline against an unjust government, escalating police violence and indiscriminate arrests, we take it to heart to uphold the core values of Hong Kong and defend the future of our younger generations," it said in a statement.

"We, the old but not obsolete Silver-Haired Marchers, will be holding a press conference this Saturday Oct 12 to announce a rally we are arranging."

READ: Hong Kong's grandpa protesters speak softly but carry a stick

Colonial-era emergency laws were introduced a week ago banning face masks at public rallies, sparking some of the worst violence since the protests started. Protesters use masks to shield their identities.

However, hundreds of people, including school children and office workers, have since defied the ban and wore face masks. A group of protesters plan a "face mask party" on Saturday night.

Anti-government protesters wearing masks attend a protest in central Hong Kong
Anti-government protesters wearing masks attend a protest in central Hong Kong on Oct 5, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Jorge Silva)

CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE

Hong Kong's police, once praised as "Asia's finest", are also facing a crisis of confidence amid the worsening political tensions. Protesters accuse them of using excessive force, a charge police deny, and two protesters have been shot and wounded during skirmishes with police.

Apple removed an app this week that helped protesters track police movements, saying it was used to target officers.

READ: Apple CEO Tim Cook defends pulling app which tracked Hong Kong police 

Hong Kong is also facing its first recession in a decade due to the protests, with tourism and retail hardest hit.

Many shops have been shutting early to avoid becoming a target of protesters and due to closures of the metro rail system after several stations were torched and trashed.

Metro operator MTR said services would end at 10pm on Saturday and the express train linking the airport with the city would not stop at stations in between from 3pm.

A police officer displays a warning banner during a flash mob rally
A police officer displays a warning banner during a flash mob rally to in Hong Kong on Oct 11, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

The Hong Kong Jockey Club said it would close eight off-course betting branches and shut another 20 early on Saturday to protect its employees.

Hong Kong's financial chief urged landlords and property developers on Friday to offer rent subsidies to retailers and food and beverage businesses. Leader Carrie Lam will make her annual policy speech on Wednesday.

READ: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says 'extreme violence' justified use of emergency powers

READ: No more masks: The colonial-era law that gives Hong Kong leader sweeping powers

Many fear China has been eroding Hong Kong's freedoms, guaranteed under a "one country, two systems" formula introduced with the 1997 handover.

The now-withdrawn extradition Bill, under which residents would have been sent to Communist-controlled mainland courts, was seen as the latest move to tighten control.

Hong Kong flash mob on Oct 11, 2019
People attend a flash mob rally to show support for pro-democracy protesters in the Central district in Hong Kong on Oct 11, 2019. (Photo: AFP / PHILIP FONG)

China denies the accusation and says foreign countries, including Britain and the United States, are fomenting unrest.

US President Donald Trump said in announcing a partial trade deal with China on Friday that he had raised Hong Kong in the talks after previously warning that a deteriorating situation in the city could affect the negotiations. 

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

Follow us on Telegram for the latest on Hong Kong: https://cna.asia/telegram 

Source: Reuters

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