July 1 – the day which marks Hong Kong’s handover to China. July 1 – the day known for its celebratory fireworks display, but more importantly, for its symbolic annual march. In the two decades since the establishment of the Special Administrative Region, the march has become synonymous with political discontent, serving as a platform for the public and pro-democracy activists to lobby for genuine democracy and universal suffrage. In 2003, 500,000 demonstrators joined the march, forcing the government into an embarrassing climb-down on its proposed national security law.
Barrister Randy Shek of the Progressive Lawyers Group criticised the police for a “lack of self-restraint” when handling pro-democracy protests. “The duty of police is to defend and enforce the law, but their acts have infringed upon our constitution,” Shek told HKFP. The Basic Law guarantees Hongkongers the rights to a range of freedoms, such as of peaceful assemblies and of expression. He said that though there are limits to these freedoms, the restrictions must be proportional and prescribed by law.