See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Politics

Calls rise to unmask protesters

China has expressed dissatisfaction with Hong Kong protests.

Written by

Updated: August 28, 2019

With protests in Hong Kong turning violent, legal experts and others are once again calling for an anti-mask law.

Thousands of residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region signed a petition earlier this month urging the local government to pass legislation that would ban the wearing of masks by demonstrators.

In addition, a local group, Protect Hong Kong, has called for such a ban, Hong Kong media reported.

The group believes that young people might not commit violent acts at rallies if they are not wearing masks.

It also said protesters have no need to wear masks unless they are sick, and if they are sick, they should not take part in rallies.

A spokesman for the group said a ban on masks would make young protesters realize they will be identified when committing illegal acts and will face consequences.

In violent attacks in the government building, on the street and at the airport in the past three months, rioters have covered their faces with masks and scarves to hide their identity and escape punishment.

Similar calls for anti-mask legislation were made after local officials, in February 2016, tried to shut down a night food market in Mong Kok, one of Hong Kong’s busiest districts, and rioters hurled bottles and garbage cans at police officers and tore bricks from the pavement to be used as weapons.

Some Hong Kong lawmakers at that time urged the local authorities to introduce an anti-mask law, saying many protesters hid their identities during the Mong Kok riot to avoid arrest.

Elizabeth Quat Puifan, a lawmaker from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said psychological studies have shown that a person wearing a mask to hide his or her identity was more likely to do violent acts than one without a mask.

Maggie Chan Manki, president of the Small and Medium Law Firms Association of Hong Kong, said that with masks on their faces, criminals are more reckless.

To safeguard people’s safety and restore order in Hong Kong, “the city should have a bill banning protesters from wearing masks,” she added.

“It is difficult for police to collect evidence (of criminal suspects among the protesters) and file lawsuits,” said Chan, who also is a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature.

Lawrence Ma Yan-kwok, a Hong Kong-based lawyer, said, “There is an urgent need to enact an anti-mask law in Hong Kong.”

Many radical Hong Kong protesters have deliberately abused this legal vacuum to break the law and avoid arrest, as it is difficult for the police to identify people wearing masks, said Ma, who is also chairman of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation.

“The purpose of having an anti-mask law is to allow the police to identify suspects who commit criminal offenses and bring them to justice,” Ma said.

Ma said Canada and many parts of the United States have anti-mask laws, and wearing masks in protests is banned in many European countries.

Earlier this year, France’s National Assembly approved a law banning the wearing of masks at protests, following weeks of antigovernment “yellow vest” demonstrations. Wearing a mask could result in a one-year prison sentence and a fine.

Wearing a mask to hide one’s identity during a public assembly is also banned in such European countries as Denmark, Germany, Norway, Austria and Sweden.

Thom Brooks, dean of the law school at Durham University in Britain, said: “My sense is these laws can be very difficult to enforce, which may help explain the substantial penalty for breaking these laws. Part of the difficulty will be simply in identifying those who are covering their faces.”

Illan rua Wall, an associate law professor of the University of Warwick in Britain, said anti-mask laws are used for two reasons: to make protesters identifiable to the police for subsequent prosecution, and because of the social psychology theory that people who feel anonymous are more likely to act aggressively.

“Forcing them to take off a mask is supposed to decrease the risk of escalation,” Wall said, adding that an anti-mask law makes it easier to disperse and prosecute.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

China Daily
About the Author: China Daily covers domestic and world news through nine print editions and digital media worldwide.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Politics

Gota wins Sri Lanka elections, extends olive branch to all

The race was called Sunday with the former defence chief winning. President elect, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, yesterday pledged to fully assist the Election Commission in holding elections. He made this statement at the Elections Secretariat, where the official results of Saturday’s presidential election were declared. Rajapaksa is to be sworn in at Ruwanweliseya, Anuradhapura today. He is to visit the Sri Maha Bodhi as well. Rajapaksa obtained 6,924,255 votes (52.25%) while Sajith Premadasa obtained 5,564,239 (41.99%.) Rajapaksa secured a victory margin of over 1.3 million votes. Jathika Jana Balawegaya candidate, Anura Kumara Dissanayake obtained 418,553 (3.16%) votes, not enough to save his deposit. Gotabaya also emerged victorious in Kalutara, Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Moneragala, Ratnapura, Badulla, Kurunegala, Puttalam, Gampaha, Kandy, Matale, Polonnaruwa Colombo, Kegalle and Anuradhapura distr

By The Island
November 18, 2019

Diplomacy, Politics

Recommended by Uneasy calm restored at Hong Kong PolyU after violent clashes

Protesters start leaving campus Monday. A temporary calm has been restored to Hong Kong Polytechnic University following violent clashes between police and protesters in almost two straight days of stand-offs, which saw part of the campus in flames, local media reported. Just before 7am, the head of PolyU, Teng Jin Guang, announced he had reached an agreement with police for a ceasefire, on the condition that the protesters stopped their attacks, broadcaster RTHK reported. Professor Teng said he hoped protesters would accept the proposed temporary suspension of force and leave the campus in a peaceful manner. But it was unclear whether this information had reached police on the ground. At about 8am, police fired tear gas at a large group of students, who had left the campus and had started walking along nearby Science Museum Road, forcing them to retreat back inside. The same also happened to a g

By The Straits Times
November 18, 2019

Diplomacy, Politics

US-Thai defence treaty looks to cement alliance in 21st century

Thailand is the US’ oldest treaty ally in Southeast Asia. Thailand and the United States have signed a defence treaty to enable stability, prosperity and sustainability in the Indo-Pacific region “in support of an inclusive and rules-based international order”. The US-Thailand Joint Vision Statement 2020 advances the 2018 US National Defence Strategy and Thailand’s 20-Year National Strategy objectives “by reaffirming our shared commitment to the long-standing defence alliance”, according to a statement issued by the US embassy in Bangkok on Sunday. “It strengthens the special relationship with a focus on the long-term advancement of mutual interests and shared values while also promoting security cooperation capable of deterring or acting decisively to meet the shared challenges of the future”, the statement added. Academics said the move reaffirmed US policy o

By The Nation (Thailand)
November 18, 2019

Diplomacy, Politics

Coming challenges call for stronger Korea-ASEAN ties

President Moon Jae-in contributed this article to The Korea Herald and Asia News Network member newspapers on the occasion of the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit.  Next week, November 25-27, the 2019 ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit and the 1st Mekong-Republic of Korea Summit will be held in Korea. In particular, since my hometown Busan will play host to the events, I am very much looking forward to them – as if I have invited valued guests to my home. I send early greetings in a warm welcome to the heads of state and government as well as to the Secretary-General of ASEAN. The Republic of Korea was ASEAN’s first dialogue partner to establish an ASEAN Culture House. Koreans love ASEAN so much that the National ASEAN Recreation Forest was created complete with cabins modeled after the various traditional housing styles of the 10 ASEAN member states. After I took offic

By Asia News Network
November 18, 2019

Diplomacy, Politics

Ayodhya: Coming full circle

Ishan Joshi writes about the recent Ayodhya verdict. Nearly 27 years to the day when as a raw 20-year-old political reporter for The Statesman I reached Ayodhya to cover the run-up to and, as it happened, the aftermath of the demolition of a medieval mosque on 6 December 1992, my primary concern was to find out whether I would get eggs for breakfast. Information I had picked up on the drive down from the state capital Lucknow to Ayodhya was that the temple town, in keeping with its status as a holy city, did no “non-veg.” Such things were important to me, then.  Now, in an effort to prolong my late youth, as it were, oats/idli/low-fat yogurt and the like are my victuals of choice for breakfast. But that’s not all that’s changed. The Supreme Court’s verdict in the Ayodhya Case last week means a Ram Temple will soon be built

By Ishan Joshi
November 18, 2019

Diplomacy, Politics

N. Korea says it sent ultimatum to S. Korea over Mount Kumgang project

Mount Kumgang is a joint economic venture. North Korea sent an ultimatum to South Korea earlier this week that it will unilaterally remove the South-built facilities from its Mount Kumgang resort unless Seoul tears them down on its own, Pyongyang’s official news agency reported Friday. The North’s tough stance suggests little room for inter-Korean negotiations that South Korea has sought in an effort to keep the long-suspended tour project that was considered one of the most tangible symbols of inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Yonhap) “We sent an ultimatum on Nov. 11 that i

By The Korea Herald
November 15, 2019