Hong Kong Legislature Evacuated Amid Protests Against Law Banning Masks
HONG KONG (Sputnik) - Hong Kong's Legislative Council, the region's unicameral legislature, issued a red alert on Friday, requiring all people on its premises to safely evacuate as protesters are rallying against the enactment of the law prohibiting people to wear masks.
"The Legislative Council (LegCo) Secretariat issued a Red alert at 7:26 p.m. [11:00 GMT] tonight (October 4). All persons are required to evacuate the LegCo Complex immediately under safe circumstances," the council said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, the Hong Kong government enacted the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, banning the wearing masks at protests.
According to the legislation, anyone caught wearing a facial disguise during public assemblies, marches, and rallies can be sentenced to up to 12 months in prison or fined 25,000 Hong Kong dollars (some $3,200), the press release said.
The legislation will be in effect starting from Saturday at midnight.
The announcement prompted thousands of protesters to take to the streets throughout the city. Several activists have claimed they would appeal the decision by Chief Executive Carrie Lam in court.
The mass protests started in China's special administrative region in early June as a reaction to a highly unpopular bill that would have allowed people to be extradited to the mainland. The protests eventually escalated into violent confrontations between demonstrators and the police.
In early September, Lam agreed to formally withdraw the controversial initiative, but protesters have remained in the streets to demand her resignation, retraction of the government's classification of the violent clashes as riots, an independent inquiry into alleged police violence and release of everyone arrested in the clashes.
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