Protesters demand more space outside liaison office

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 May, 2012, 12:00am


Campaigners against police interference in demonstrations called yesterday for a huge flowerbed outside the central government's liaison office to be uprooted to make more room for protests.

The call came after an independent appeal board on Wednesday overturned the police's decision to deny the campaigners' application to protest outside the office's main entrance in Western district.

The flowerbed takes up much of the entrance, leaving only narrow walkways around it to hold a demonstration. The police cited safety concerns in rejecting the application.

About 300 demonstrators joined the march yesterday from the old Legislative Council building in Central to the office. Some brought coffins and paper tanks against what they said was an increasing abuse of police power and an encroachment on the freedom to demonstrate.

Paper offerings and eggs were also thrown into the liaison office. The police deployed around 100 officers to maintain order during the rally.

Yesterday's protest ended at around 6.30pm. Police said the turnout was 200.

Civil Human Rights Front convenor Eric Lai Yan-ho called the protest a 'breakthrough'.

'The little breakthrough shows that both the appeal board [on public meetings and processions] and the public think the protest restrictions imposed by the police are inappropriate,' Lai said.

'We hope that for the future protests citizens will be allowed to sit on the flower bed ... or have it demolished altogether.'

The protesters also called on Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung to retract his controversial 'shadow' remark.

The police chief was widely criticised last year for telling legislators that officers who blocked a television cameraman from filming a protester's removal from an event attended by Vice-Premier Li Keqiang were merely reacting out of instinct after seeing a shadow. The account was dismissed by an internal police investigation, but Tsang has refused to retract the statement.

The police have also been criticised in recent weeks for using pepper spray on demonstrators protesting outside the liaison office against Beijing's role in the chief executive election. The force was also accused of failing to provide facilities to help the media cover rallies.