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Hong Kong women's march called off: organizers

A women workers' association was granted authorization to hold a demonstration March 5 but canceled it, offering no reason
This photo taken on March 5 shows police keeping watch on a street in the Wanchai district after the Hong Kong Women Workers' Association canceled a planned march in the area

This photo taken on March 5 shows police keeping watch on a street in the Wanchai district after the Hong Kong Women Workers' Association canceled a planned march in the area. (Photo: AFP)

Published: March 09, 2023 05:35 AM GMT
Updated: March 09, 2023 05:41 AM GMT

A Hong Kong women's rights group said Wednesday it had called off what would have been a rare authorised protest after its representatives had been summoned numerous times for meetings with the police.

The Hong Kong Women Workers' Association (HKWWA) had been granted authorisation to hold a demonstration on March 5, but then abruptly cancelled the night before, offering no reason.

On Wednesday, the group said "police asked to meet us a number of times" after it received approval for the march.

"The action was in the first place granted a letter of no objection by the police," HKWWA said in a statement.

"The association tried its best to amend the agreement with the police in order to make the action take place. However, the result was not what we had hoped for.

"We could not hold the march and rally for women to speak out."

Hong Kong Police said in a statement late on Wednesday that when contacted about any public event they conduct "a comprehensive risk assessment".

They then take "corresponding measures" to handle the event, the statement said.

At a March 4 press conference soon after the march was called off, police said that they "respect the decision of the organisers".

In the past, Hong Kong saw frequent public demonstrations and protests, but those came to an end after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law in 2020 to stamp out widespread, and sometimes violent, pro-democracy protests.

Group gatherings were also banned for more than two years under protracted Covid pandemic restrictions that started to be relaxed at the end of 2022.

After the HKWWA cancelled the women's march, police said that anyone taking part would be considered in violation of unlawful assembly laws.

According to the organisers, "groups and citizens who supported us were also pressured and warned".

Those appear to have included the leftist League of Social Democrats, which said its members were threatened with arrest by national security police if they joined the march.

The HKWWA vowed on International Women's Day to continue fighting for gender equality and women's labour rights.

"Our only choice is to continue and persevere: solidarity, mutual assistance, speaking out."

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