Hong Kong police fire pepper ball rounds at protesters

HONG KONG: Hong Kong police fired pepper ball rounds at protesters, after chaos unfurled at the heart of the financial centre on Wednesday (May 27).

Police also surrounded the Legislative Council amid tensions over perceived threats to the city’s freedoms as activists called for protests against a Bill to criminalise disrespect of the Chinese anthem.

Eyewitnesses described “chaotic scenes” as police cleared roads blocked by protesters, according to Reuters.

Hong Kong protests May 27 (2)

Hong Kong riot police form a line and issue a warning as they plan to clear away people gathered in the Central district of downtown Hong Kong on May 27, 2020. (Photo: AFP/ANTHONY WALLACE)

Riot police also rounded up dozens of people on the streets of the shopping district.

Hundreds of riot police took up posts around Hong Kong’s legislature overnight as protests were expected over a Bill criminalising disrespect of China’s national anthem and against plans by Beijing to impose national security laws. 

READ: Riot police surround Hong Kong legislature ahead of flashpoint anthem debate

Hong Kong protests May 27 (1)

Hong Kong riot police try to clear away people gathered in the Central district of downtown Hong Kong on May 27, 2020. (Photo: AFP/ANTHONY WALLACE)

The proposed new national security laws have triggered the first big street unrest in Hong Kong since last year, when violent protests created Hong Kong’s biggest crisis since the return of Chinese rule in 1997 from Britain.

READ: Explainer: Hong Kong’s China national anthem Bill aims to legislate ‘respect’

PROTESTERS ARRESTED

Ahead of protests, authorities erected a two-metre wall made of plastic barriers filled with water around the Legislative Council, extending across a park up to Victoria Harbour.

Hong Kong protests May 27

Hong Kong riot police try to clear away people gathered in the Central district of downtown Hong Kong on May 27, 2020. (Photo: AFP/ANTHONY WALLACE)

In other parts of the city, protesters used bins and debris to block roads, while activists issued calls online for demonstrations in various locations later in the day.

Police said they had arrested two males aged 15 and 18, allegedly carrying several petrol bombs, goggles and helmets.

WEEKEND VIOLENCE

All this follows violence over the weekend in Hong Kong when police fired tear gas and water cannon at thousands of protesters who gathered on Sunday against a controversial security law proposed by China.

READ: Trump sounds warning over Hong Kong’s future

The planned legislation – expected to ban treason, subversion and sedition – comes after Hong Kong was shaken last year by months of massive, often-violent protests, and repeated warnings from Beijing that it would not tolerate dissent.

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

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