The Hong Kong Women Workers’ Association (HKWWA) abruptly called off this year’s Women’s Days March scheduled on 5 March, two days after the group received an authorization from the police.
The League of Social Democrats, a political party in Hong Kong, said the police warned four of its members not to attend the event or they “will be arrested” on 3 March. The party said that the right to protest was being infringed.
The march would have been the first authorized rally in 3 years since Covid-19 and the lifting of the COVID restrictions. HKWWA said they “regrettably decided to cancel the march” on their Facebook page but did not give further details. The theme of the march was to advocate labour righs for women workers and gender equality ahead of the International Women’s Day on March 8.
The Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee commented on the cancellation of the march and said, anyone with no confidence or ability, or who has doubts, should not organised public events, since the organisers would ultimately bear legal liability. This prompted concerns that the Hong Kong government not only failed to facilitate assembly and protest, and to safeguard people’s freedom of expression as specified in International Law and standards, but also continue to intimidate protest organisers to make demonstrations impossible.
According to Dennis Cheng Wai-kin, acting senior superintendent of the Hong Kong Island regional headquarters, certain persons, including “violent groups” have indicated to participate in the demonstration. Cheng did not provide any further information on the violent group and said HKWWA decided to cancel the march “after weighing the interests of all stakeholders.”
When asked if the cancellation of the rally was related to the ongoing parliamentary “two sessions” meetings in Beijing, or whether they had imposed other terms, he said that he would not comment on why HKWWA made the decision to cancel the demonstration.
Local media quoted police sources that the police met with the HKWWA and warned them of various risks earlier, including that the HKWWA would be responsible for the slogans and banners in the demonstration. Police sources said they have persuaded the HKWWA to hold an assembly instead of a demonstration or to cancel the event. HKWWA insisted on continuing but announced to cancel the march on 4 March.
March 2: HKWWA announced on Facebook that they received the “letter of no objection” issued by the police to hold the Women’s Day March on March 5.
March 4: HKWWA announced on Facebook that they “regrettably decided to cancel the march”.
March 4: Hong Kong Police said HKWWA decided to cancel the march “after weighing the interests of all stakeholders”. The police said “violent groups” indicated to participate in the march but did not provide further details on the “violent groups”.
March 5: League of Social Democrats said four of its members was warned by the police not to participate the march or they “will be arrested” on 3 March.
March 6: Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said anyone “with no confidence or ability, or who has doubts”, should not organised public events, since the organisers would ultimately bear the legal liability.