Hong Kong Announces Ban on Masks and Face Paint That Helps Protesters Evade Facial Recognition

A pro-democracy protester sprays paint over a CCTV digital camera exterior the Central Authorities Advanced on September 28, 2019 in Hong Kong
Photograph: Getty Pictures

The Hong Kong authorities has banned masks and face paint in its newest try to cease the pro-democracy protests which have been raging since June. The brand new “emergency” order was introduced by Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam at a press convention immediately and can go into impact at midnight native time, 12:00 pm ET.

The brand new legislation bans “any facial covering that is likely to prevent identification,” throughout public demonstrations. Anybody arrested below the brand new rule will resist a yr in jail and a effective of roughly $3,200 US.

“We believe that the new law will create a new deterrence effect against masked violent protesters and rioters,” Lam mentioned at a press convention that was carried stay on-line. “Hong Kong is not in a state of emergency,” Lam assured residents. “But we are indeed in a location of serious danger.”

Hong Kong protesters, upset about Beijing’s political incursion into the area, put on masks primarily for 3 causes. First, protesters wish to hold from being recognized by cameras across the metropolis that use facial recognition software program. Second, the protesters don’t wish to be recognized by police forces on the bottom, permitting authorities to focus on them later once they arrive residence. And third, the masks can protect protesters from teargas, which has grow to be a typical weapon deployed by police.

Rumors have been swirling this week in regards to the anti-mask rule, dubbed the “prohibition on face covering regulation,” resulting in much more protests on the streets as individuals shouted slogans and sang the area’s new protest anthem, “Glory to Hong Kong.” Protests have gotten much more heated in current days following an incident on October 1 the place a Hong Kong police officer shot a teen protester within the chest.

Protesters often destroy safety cameras in an effort to cease Chinese language authorities from recognizing them, however in a world awash with cameras all over the place, the one solution to really be secure is through the use of masks. Lam mentioned at immediately’s press convention that bans on face coverings have been “something which has already been introduced in a number of jurisdictions around the world” and defended the transfer as one thing that might assist to revive peace and order within the area.

Hong Kong has had relative autonomy from China’s central authorities because it was handed over by the British in 1997 and operates below a “one country, two systems” rule. The brand new legislation was handed by members of Hong Kong’s Executive Council, a few of whom are accused of being too intently aligned with the Chinese language authorities in Beijing. Lam herself is usually denounced as a “puppet” of Beijing, who has reportedly wished to give up her job, however isn’t allowed to by her overseers in China.

Lam identified that the brand new legislation contains exemptions for some individuals who must cowl their faces for his or her jobs. And whereas which may sound nice, it might presumably imply that police are allowed to put on masks, whereas the common particular person wouldn’t.

Some protesters in Hong Kong have requested for the U.S. authorities to intervene within the area, however that appears extremely unlikely. Information broke late final evening that President Donald Trump assured Chinese language chief Xi Jingping that he wouldn’t even converse out in assist of the protesters if he gave the U.S. concessions in a commerce deal. That decision passed off on June 18, in response to CNN, and Trump reportedly requested for dust on his political opponents, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, one thing that’s unlawful below U.S. legislation.

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Classmates of a pupil protester shot by police on October 1, 2019, participate in a solidarity rally exterior the Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial School

Residents of Tsuen Wan collect at an open air stadium to protest a teenage demonstrator shot at shut vary within the chest by a police officer in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019.

A pro-democracy protester runs from police as they arrest protesters throughout clashes in Wan Chai on October 01, 2019 in Hong Kong

Professional-democracy protesters break a surveillance digital camera at a Tai Koo MTR station on October 3, 2019 in Hong Kong

Classmates of a teen who was shot by police protest on October 2, 2019

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It’s not clear if the brand new anti-mask legislation would apply to journalists as effectively, since reporters have been caught within the crossfire between police and protesters over the previous few months. Most lately, one reporter from the media outlet Suara Hong Kong Information, Veby Mega Indah, completely misplaced sight in her proper eye after police shot her within the face with a rubber bullet on Sunday, September 29.

The South China Morning Put up, Hong Kong’s largest English-language newspaper, spoke with consultants who imagine there are many loopholes within the new anti-mask legislation, although it’s approach too early to say whether or not they’ll be efficiently exploited.

“What if the guy says he wears a mask because has a cold and shows us a doctor’s certificate? We’ll have to give him reasonable doubt, and it will take a lot of time and energy to find out if he is really ill or not,” one police inspector instructed the SCMP.

So maybe that’s the answer. Everybody have their physician’s notes helpful?


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