Legislative Council elections 2016

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters win appeal over planned march route

Marchers, protesting against the disqualification of localist Legco candidates in the upcoming election, will be allowed to march to the entrance of the chief executive’s office on Sunday

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 August, 2016, 7:23pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 August, 2016, 8:30pm

Campaigners, taking to the streets on Sunday to protest against the disqualification of pro-independence Legislative Council candidates, will be allowed to march to the entrance of the city leader’s office, despite police fears that radicals will use the opportunity to cause trouble.

The Civil Human Rights Front told the police earlier that when their procession reached the junction of Harcourt Road and Tim Wa Avenue in Admiralty, participants should be allowed to march along the latter to the entrance of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s office.

They filed an appeal after police insisted that those marching must take a longer route along Harcourt Road and Tim Mei Avenue, and disperse at the junction of Tim Wa Avenue and Lung Wo Road near Leung’s office.

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In a hearing on Friday, Hong Kong Island police senior superintendent Tse Kwok-wai said: “The police has to plan for the worst ... There could be people making use of the rally on Sunday to do radical things, such as occupying roads leading to the chief executive’s office.”

At least three of the six localist candidates, banned for their pro-independence stance, vowed to show up on Sunday.

Tse also said that Tim Wa Avenue would be blocked off by the police as entrances of both Leung’s office and the government’s headquarters are on that street.

But pressed by the front convenor Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, Tse admitted that under the police’s plan, marchers could only U-turn at the finishing point, raising questions whether the pavement on Lung Wo Road would be overcrowded.

After a closed-door discussion, Appeal Board on Public Meetings and Processions chairman Pang Kin-kee, a retired High Court judge, ruled in favour of the front. It was one of the few times that protest organisers have won appeals in recent years.

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He said opening Tim Wa Avenue for marchers “would not create an unacceptable impact on people’s safety, road users’ rights and emergency vehicle access”.

Sham said he was glad to win the appeal.

“Judging from the localists’ peaceful rally two weeks ago, I think the risk is low that they will take radical action on Sunday,” he said.