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Hong Kong braced for weekend of protests


Covered: Anti-government protesters in masks. Photo: Reuters

Covered: Anti-government protesters in masks. Photo: Reuters

Covered: Anti-government protesters in masks. Photo: Reuters

Hong Kong is preparing for a weekend of demonstrations, including a human chain at major subway lines and a democracy march tomorrow, the latest moves in more than four months of anti-government protests.

It has been two weeks since Carrie Lam, leader of the Chinese-ruled city, invoked colonial-era emergency laws banning face masks, hoping to quell protests. Instead, the city has been shaken by some of the most intense unrest to date.

Although the last few days have been relatively calm, with protesters staying off the streets, prominent human rights activist Jimmy Sham was brutally attacked on Wednesday, a move pro-democracy lawmakers said was meant to intimidate protesters and incite violence ahead of tomorrow's planned march.

Police yesterday rejected a permit request for the march, meaning it will be an illegal rally. Thousands of people have defied police in the past and staged mass rallies, often peaceful in the start but descending into violence at night.

"We will not back down even after the attack on the Civil Human Rights Front convener Jimmy Sham. Our most powerful force is the unity and resistance of this civil society," said the rights group, calling on the public to rally tomorrow.

Pro-democracy protesters called for a 40km human chain outside metro stations yesterday, asking people to wear face masks in defiance of the ban.

Hong Kong has been battered by four months of protests, driven by concerns Beijing is eroding freedoms granted when Britain handed the city back to China in 1997.

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