Demosisto takes national anthem bill anger to Civic SquareLocal | 23 Jan 2019 1:57 pm
Members of the pro-democracy Demosisto group hoisted a protest banner in Civic Square outside the government's headquarters today as they demonstrated against the planned national anthem law, RTHK reports.
The group of activists, including Demosisto leaders Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam, put up the banner with a message in Chinese suggesting that people have the right not to sing the anthem if they wish.
The group's operation caught security guards at the scene by surprise. The activists managed to tie the banner to the flagpoles on the podium in the forecourt, overcoming attempts by the guards to stop them.
The banner was taken down by security guards minutes later.
The protest came ahead of the tabling of the national anthem bill in Legco today for its first and second readings.
"We are against it because we believe it is not a must for people to be loyal to the country and loyal to the regime," Demosisto leader Joshua Wong said.
Wong said they chose to protest in Civic Square because the fences around the area limit people's freedom, just as the national anthem law will.
He called on all lawmakers to demand that the government withdraw the proposed legislation, which will criminalize disrespect for "March of the Volunteers", leaving offenders at risk of three years in prison or a fine of up to HK$50,000.
A government spokesman strongly condemned the Demosisto protest, saying a security guard was injured and some plants were damaged.
He said the Administration Wing had reported the incident to the police and the force was following up on the matter.
The spokesman added that the government respects people's right to express their opinions, but the podium in the forecourt is not open for protests.