For the first time during the four months of unrest, uniformed soldiers from the Hong Kong garrison of the People’s Liberation Army raised a yellow warning flag at nearby protesters, saying: “You are in breach of the law. You may be prosecuted.”
The intervention from the People’s Liberation Army came after the Hong Kong government’s failure to stop violence after the announcement of emergency law. In a rare public reaction, a yellow flag raised from atop a People's Liberation Army (PLA) building in Kowloon Tong, in north Kowloon, warning protesters they could be prosecuted if they continued to approach the barracks. The flag appears to be similar to those used by police during protests.
As part of the newly announced emergency law, the Hong Kong government had banned the use of masks by protesters. But, rejecting the law, tens of thousands poured into the streets on Sunday wearing masks in defiance of the ban.
There were scenes of anarchy as some protesters set fires, smashed Chinese banks and subway stations, while police, outnumbered at many locations, fired volleys of tear gas and projectiles. A taxi driver was beaten bloody by a mob in another district after he rammed into a group of protesters.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam invoked the colonial-era emergency law Friday to ban masks at public gatherings. The full emergency law, gives her government sweeping powers that include allowing authorities to impose curfews, extend detentions, censor the internet and take control of all transport—moves her government has been reluctant to impose.
After the worst violence in more than 50 years erupted on Oct. 1—the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China—Victor Gao, an interpreter for former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, said Beijing’s intervention looked increasingly likely.
Hong Kong’s government said the ban on masks was needed to deter vandalism and other unlawful acts that pose a serious public danger. Those arrested for wearing masks at public gatherings and unlawful assemblies face as much as one year in prison.