In pictures: Arrests and fear mark Day 1 of Hong Kong's New Security Law

After China passed the national security law

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(L-R) Pan-democratic legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Vice convener for Hong Kong's Civil Human Rights Front Figo Chan, and activist Leung Kwok-hung

Day 1: After Chinese authorities passed the national security law, also the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese control, thousands of protesters took to the streets to participate in a pro-democracy march, following the first arrests.  Of these, about 370 were arrested including 10 over new offenses created by the security law that takes aim at political dissent. Rest were corralled by the police using pepper spray and water cannons. One of the 10 was a 15-year-old girl waving a Hong Kong independence flag, the police said. The protests took place across Causeway Bay and Wan Chai. The protesters chanted "five demands, not one less" and sang the pro-democracy anthem "Glory to Hong Kong."

The new security law

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People detained by riot police during a march against national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020. Photo: Reuters

According to the new law, arson and vandalising public transport with an intent to intimidate the Hong Kong government or Chinese government for political purposes will constitute acts of terrorism, the Hong Kong Free Press reported. The law also states that certain national security cases will be held behind closed doors without juries in Hong Kong if they contained state secrets, although the verdict and eventual judgements would be made public. As per the new law, Beijing will be setting up an office for stamping out threats to national security in Hong Kong, with personnel dispatched from relevant Chinese security agencies.

Why activists are on the streets

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In response to China’s move of passing the controversial legislation for Hong Kong, ignoring the worldwide outcry, activists hit the streets on Wednesday, raging over the new law as the city marked 23 years since its handover from British to Chinese rule.

Events before the protest

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Chinese national flags are seen on the ground during a march against national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain, in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

To muzzle the voices of pro-democracy protesters, the Hong Kong Police had earlier put a ban on the annual July 1 pro-democracy march.  However, the protesters had announced that they would continue with their demonstrations.

Responses worldwide

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Photo: PTI

According to the UK government the new security law breaches the Sino-British joint declaration aimed to smooth the transition when the territory was handed back to China in 1997, on the basis that its partial democracy and market economy would be respected. In light of these events, the Boris government has opened doors to the UK to around 3 million Hong Kongers, which China vows to stop.  Besides, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison confirmed that Australia is set to follow the UK in providing support to fleeing residents, day after authorities arrested hundreds of protesters in Hong Kong. The US House of Representatives on Wednesday joined the Senate in approving a bill to rebuke China over its crackdown in Hong Kong by imposing sanctions on groups that undermine the city’s autonomy or restrict its freedoms.

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