Clashes and arrests in Hong Kong over delayed poll

Clashes and arrests in Hong Kong over delayed poll
Riot police in Hong Kong prepare to fire pepper-sprayed ball against demonstrators. Photo: 6 September 2020Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Thousands of riot police officers have been deployed in Hong Kong

Police in Hong Kong have fired pepper-spray balls at crowds protesting against a government decision to delay legislative elections in the territory.

Nearly 300 people were arrested at Sunday's unauthorised demonstration.

The elections had been due on 6 September, but the government postponed them by a year saying it was necessary amid a rise in coronavirus infections.

The opposition is accusing the government of using the pandemic as a pretext to stop people from voting.

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Media captionHong Kong security law: The BBC's Stephen McDonell explains what it means, and what people there think

Opposition activists had hoped to obtain a majority in the Legislative Council (LegCo), capitalising on anger at Beijing's imposition of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong, and fears that the territory's freedoms are being eroded.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed back to China in 1997 under an agreement meant to guarantee a high degree of autonomy for 50 years.

Pro-democracy candidates had made unprecedented gains in last year's district council elections, winning 17 out of 18 councils.

What's the latest from Sunday's protests?

Thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong to mark the day the elections had been due to be held.

Chanting "Give me back my right to vote!", groups of protesters walked a short distance before they were confronted by heavily armed riot police.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Activists said they were aiming to draw 50,000 people onto the streets
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Most of those detained have been accused of taking part in an unauthorised rally

At least 289 people were arrested, local media report.

"I want my right to vote! Shame [on the government] for postponing the elections!" Leung Kwok-hung, one of those detained on Sunday, was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post website.

Earlier, a high-profile opposition activist, Tam Tak-chi, was detained, accused of making speeches that could incite hatred and contempt of the government.

He was held by police working to enforce the Chinese territory's new strict national security law, which was imposed by Beijing in June and criminalises many forms of political expression.

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