Within a span of 24-hours, three prominent pro-democracy protest leaders have been taken into police custody. After the arrests, Hong Kong police refused to give permission for a pro-democracy march that was to take place on Saturday. Requests to permit the march have been denied as the protests enter the 13th week of demonstrations
Hong Kong police apprehended Andy Chan, leader of the banned Hong Kong National Party on Thursday night. Friday morning saw the arrest of activist group Demosisto's leaders Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow.
According to reports from the South China Post, Chan has been arrested for assaulting an officer and rioting during the Sheung Shui protest. Wong, the secretary-general of Demosisto, has been arrested for inciting and organising illegal assembly during the Wan Chai police headquarters besiegement on June 21. Chow, one of the founding members of Demosisto, has been arrested for unlawful assembly.
Rick Hui Yui-yu, Sha Tin district council member, has also been arrested for obstructing officers during the New Town Plaza shopping mall clashes on July 14.
Saturday's march would have been in honour of the fifth anniversary of Beijing's rejection of universal suffrage for Hong Kong. The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) had been organising the event. This is the first time that the police have denied the CHRF permission to hold a rally. Following last weekend's violent clashes and growing impatience in Beijing, the rejection was not unexpected.
CHRF co-leader Bonnie Leung has shared the message that the safety of the demonstrators is the primary concern of the organisation. The organisation will continue to petition the police to give the required permits. However, the organisation will not go against the law to hold the march and jeopardize the safety of the participants. Since the police have refused to permit the march, the event has been called off.
Pressure from Beijing has increased as more armed forces have entered the city over-night. Officials from Beijing have stated that the forces were sent in regular rotation and it was not a cause for concern. US intelligence sources have given a contradictory report to CBS news. According to the sources the movement is not a regular rotation since the forces which were already in the city have not been relieved. The additional forces have been sent to support the forces which are already present in the city.
Beijing has not been bashful about the fact that armed forces have closed in on Hong Kong to take action against the protesters. China Daily, the government-run English news site, published an editorial which clearly states that the troops positioned are not symbolic. The troops are there to act if the government feels action must be taken against the demonstrators. With 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China drawing closer, Beijing seems to be increasingly impatient in handing the pro-democracy protests.
Even though the police have refused to allow the protesters to march, there still may be a smaller gatherings. A legal loophole allows religious gathering without permits. Identifying as a religious group and singing church songs, demonstrators might still be having a small rally on Saturday.