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HONG KONG (AP) – Hong Kong police interrupted a four-person pro-democracy protest on the Chinese National Day on Friday amid a growing crackdown on free speech and opposition policy.

Singing and carrying a sign calling for the release of the Hong Kong people arrested during the crackdown and chanting pro-democracy slogans, the four members of the opposition League of Social Democrats had tried to march to the convention center at the port where the official celebration was held. to be retained.

Dozens of officers, part of a massive police presence deployed to avoid disruption that day, surrounded them and kept them out of sight and earshot of officials attending a flag-raising ceremony.

“I think Hong Kong is now the only place in China where diverse opinions are allowed,” Chan Po-ying, party chairman, told reporters.

Chan noted the extensive security measures deployed, but added that “Even under such pressure, we must still cling to our most basic civil rights, namely freedom of speech and assembly.”

The restrictions made such protests a rare occurrence and the Hong Kong government arrested three leaders of the group which held an annual candlelight vigil commemorating the victims of the military crash of the 1989 pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The vigil was the only large-scale public commemoration of the crackdown on Chinese soil, but it has not been authorized for two years.

The leaders have been charged with subversion under a national security law imposed on the city by Beijing after months of anti-government protests in 1989 that criminalize subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion to interfere in city ​​affairs.

Such moves have led the United States to impose sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials, claiming the new law nullifies freedoms promised to the former British colony when it was handed over to China in 1997.

Over the past year, dozens of pro-democracy activists have been arrested and others gone into voluntary exile abroad, while election laws have been amended to increase the number of seats for pro lawmakers. -Pekin while reducing those who are directly elected.

In celebration of the national day, Hong Kong Managing Director Carrie Lam presided over a flag raising ceremony attended by officials from Hong Kong and China who sang China’s national anthem while helicopters flying the Chinese flag flew overhead.

In mainland China, huge crowds have gathered to witness flag-raising ceremonies in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and in cities across the country.

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