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Hundreds of protesters and pro-democracy activists were arrested last night as they protested the stringent new bill. One of the arrests included a 15-year-old girl who was protesting the new restrictions and waving a flag.
Police officers were cladded with riot gear, shields and bearing guns as they pushed protesters back using water cannons, tear gas and pepper spray.
China released the details of the National Security Bill on Tuesday evening, weeks after the law was announced.
It happened on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s transfer to China and it overturns assurances made to protect Hongkongers’ freedoms.
Pro-democracy demonstrators were initially outnumbered by riot police, who were stationed at each major intersection.
Thousands of protesters arrived later to support the pro-democracy protest, dodging the tear gas and pepper pellets fired int heir direction.
Police said ten protesters were detained particularly under the new security law.
The first was a man with a flag that read: “Hong Kong Independence”. A woman holding a sign with the Union Flag was also arrested.
Other demonstrators were arrested for “possessing items advocating independence”.
Around 370 people were detained on other charges, including unlawful assembly and bearing weapons.
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The new legislation is interpreted as China’s most resolute move to gain complete control over Hong Kong.
It bans any action considered to be against China’s national interests.
Even if violence is not used, anyone shouting slogans or holding signs advocating for independence is considered to be breaching the law.
Driving a bus full of pro-democracy demonstrators could be deemed to be breaking the law.
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Those who are found to be committing more sever crimes will be labelled “terrorists”, taken to the mainland and receive a life sentence in prison. Some trials will take place behind closed doors.
A new police force has also been authorised to work in the territory with immunity to local legislation.
It will be China, not Hong Kong, the one to decide how the law is interpreted.
Ahead of the demonstration, pro-democracy activist Tsang Kin-shing, of the League of Social Democrats, cautioned there was a “large chance of our being arrested”.
He said: “The charges will not be light, please judge for yourself.”
One man said: “I’m scared of going to jail but for justice I have to come out today, I have to stand up.”
Media tycoon Jimmy Lai said the bill meant Hong Kong was “dead”.
He added: “It’s worse than the worst scenario imagined. Hong Kong is totally subdued, totally under control.”
Mr Lai also backed the Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989 and he thinks Beijing will reprehend him.
“I cannot worry, because you never know what kind of measures they will take against me,” he said.
Amnesty International said the new legislation was a “far-reaching threat to Hong Kong’s freedoms”.
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