Two Hong Kong people appeared in court on Monday after being charged with violating the anti-mask law after they were arrested on Kai Tin Road in Lam Tin in Kowloon early on Saturday morning.
A 38-year-old woman and an 18-year-old man were both charged with one count of illegal assembly and one count of violating the anti-mask law, RTHK reported. They became the first people charged with violating the new law.
The two were released on bail, but have to abide by a curfew and cannot leave Hong Kong. About 100 people turned up at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts in support, some wearing masks and dressed in black. The case was adjourned to November 18.
On October 4, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor invoked the Emergency Regulation Ordinance before passing the anti-mask law.
Anyone who violates the ban on wearing masks at any kind of protest, authorised or otherwise, risks a prison term of one year and a fine of up to HK$25,000 (US$3,187).
On the same day, activist Lester Shum applied to the High Court for an interim injunction to ban the anti-mask law, reasoning that the mask ban would constitute “disproportionate interference” with the right to peaceful assembly and the freedom of expression. The court refused to grant an injunction.
On Sunday, the High Court rejected an application by pro-democracy lawmakers for an interim injunction against the mask ban. The court will decide later this month whether to allow a judicial review into the chief executive’s move.
The court had earlier refused activist Lester Shum’s application to grant an interim injunction – minutes before the anti-mask regulation came into effect on Saturday.
Lam “would have to be crazy” to make the recent decisions on her own without being pressured into them, Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last governor, told Sky TV in an interview. “The face masks business – absolutely madness, which people will protest against. So the way forward is to engage with the demonstrators, particularly the peaceful demonstrators.”
Patten said it had taken a huge amount of mis-government by Hong Kong authorities and Beijing to get a formerly peaceful and united community out on the streets. He said he was concerned that is was only a matter of time before someone is shot and killed by police during the ongoing protests.
It was hard to evaluate the effects of the anti-mask law, which had been launched for only two days, Basic Law Committee vice-chairwoman Maria Tam Wai-chu said in radio program on Monday. The new law provides the government with a tool to eliminate the “black terror,” she said, referring to the black-shirted people on the streets.
Tam said the government did not want more young people to be arrested. She said hopefully the new law would deter young people from joining the rallies or protests without telling their parents.
On Sunday, tens of thousands of Hong Kong people wearing masks rallied in Kowloon and on Hong Kong Island in a stand against the anti-mask law. Because of the huge crowds on the streets, riot police avoided direct confrontations with the demonstrators, but kept them at a distance by firing tear gas. They waited until the evening to clear the roads and started intercepting young people on buses and in some colleges.
Police said they arrested seven masked college students, aged 18 to 21, in Kowloon City district at 5pm because they had allegedly joined an illegal assembly on Waterloo Road at 3:45pm.
The police’s crime unit for the district was handling the case. According to media reports, those arrested were five students from the Hong Kong Baptist University, one from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and another from The Open University of Hong Kong.
Riot police were seen entering the Hong Kong Baptist University, trying to arrest more young people. But they retreated as they did not have a warrant to search the university, according to video footage on social media.
Andy Lee Shiu-chuen, vice-president of the Hong Kong Baptist University, said the police could not enter the campus, which is managed by the university, without a warrant. He urged all students to stay away from dangerous places.
At 2pm on Sunday, some police entered the Chinese University of Hong Kong without a warrant. They took away several students and said they had allegedly damaged facilities in an MTR station. The students were later released.
The student union of the Chinese University of Hong Kong criticized the police for entering the campus without legal documents.
Student unions of the 12 local universities issued a joint statement, slamming the police for creating a “white terror” by invoking the emergency law while the new anti-mask law grants the police a reason to intercept and arrest young people. They said the launch of the anti-mask law showed that Hong Kong has become a police state.
From Tuesday, all secondary schools are required to submit the numbers of students who wear masks, chant slogans, join sit-in protests or form human chains on a daily basis, according to several media reports. The Education Bureau will contact a school if it fails to provide the data before 11am.
Teddy Tang Chun-keung, chairman of the Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools, confirmed that the Education Bureau had launched the new measures. Tang said secondary schools would not send the names of students involved in any actions to the government for privacy reasons.
Preparatory Platform of Class Boycotts in Secondary Schools called for all secondary students to wear masks to schools to fight against the government’s “white terror” on Tuesday.