Pro-democracy protests planned for Sunday in Hong Kong have been declared illegal by police. This all but guarantees it will be a violent event.
During the last unauthorised protest in October, on the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, police fired live ammunition at the crowd and a young man was shot in his left shoulder.
It marked the first use of lethal force since the protests began four months ago.
Violence escalated again on Wednesday when Jimmy Sham, a leading figure of the pro-democracy movement, was brutally bashed by a group of unidentified men wielding hammers.
Sunday’s rally has been deemed illegal by police, who say past events have been “hijacked by a group of radical protestors” who damaged properties and lobbed petrol bombs at authorities.
But their refusal to grant the protestors’ a march permit won’t stop the rally from going ahead. In fact, it seems to have strengthened the activists’ resolve.
“We will not back down even after the attack on the Civil Human Rights Front convener Jimmy Sham,” the rights group said, urging the public to rally on Sunday.
“Our most powerful force is the unity and resistance of this civil society.”
The rising tensions between police and protestors follow warnings by Bonnie Leung that if Australia turns a blind eye to the crackdown in Hong Kong then China will become emboldened to “bully” us too.
Ms Leung, leader of the pro-democracy movement, was in Canberra last week lobbying federal MPs to refrain from ratifying a new trade deal with Hong Kong unless human rights guarantees are added to the agreement.
There is no sign as yet that these demands are being listened to by ether side of the political divide, let alone met.
“International pressure can actually relieve some of the pressure now in the streets and some of the dangers we face here in Hong Kong,” she told The New Daily.
“We’re at the front fighting against this bully, but if we fail then I’m sure this bully will step on our bodies and come forward knocking on everyone else’s door.”
While in Canberra, Ms Leung called on the Morrison government to consider drafting a US-style deal that threatens sanctions against the Chinese Communist Party if it breaches human rights in Hong Kong.
She also wants Australia to put its hand up to accept asylum seekers “if things get worse”.
“I hope this doesn’t happen, but I fear people who are persecuted by the Hong Kong and Chinese government will need to flee,” Ms Leung said.
“If a Tiananmen Square massacre happened in Hong Kong it would look very bad and China is not that stupid, but that doesn’t mean we’re not in danger – they are already attacking us.”