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Sunday, 6 October 2019

The masks in Hong Kong come off

Saleem Zahid. 

After what she called a very dark night, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam used her emergency powers to ban the Hong Kong masks. The rarely used colonial era Emergency Regulation Ordinance was invoked by her, in consultation with the legislators, to enforce the ban. Despite calls that the banning violates Hong Kong’s basic law and the Chinese law, the ordinance allows the Hong Kong government to take such measures if public security and order is in danger.

The “dark night” and the months long state of violence had risen to a level that the government was forced to resort to this move as it believes the violence justifies this latest step.

Violence in Hong Kong had been getting out of hand recently. Images where property was damaged and ATMs, subways and shops were seen burning left little to imagination that it had gone way too far. The police has been a special target of the mobs. Throwing petrol bombs and bricks endangered the life of many personnel who were doing their duty to maintain the security of the city. The frequent blocking of roads had become a nuisance for the residents who often could not reach their destinations during emergencies.

The Chinese government has frequently accused foreign governments of adding fuel to the fire in Hong Kong. Photographs of foreign embassy officials meeting with the protesters went viral and prompted a strong rebuke from the Chinese government. It believes that the meddling needs to stop in order to pacify the protesters to some level.

The protests have been disastrous for the city’s economy. Its trade has been affected, passenger inflow at the airport is low and its reputation as an international financial hub is at stake. As tourism is also down, the shopping areas are either not opening on weekends or are closing early. This is further accelerating the spiralling down of the economy.

After the Hong Kong masks were banned, reaction from the protestors was natural. They expressed a strong opposition because previously they could easily flee after attacking and ransacking. Now since they can be identified and apprehended even after any protest is over, the violence is expected to come down.

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