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Hundreds Arrested in Hong Kong for Protesting China's Crackdown on Democracy

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About 290 people were arrested Sunday at protests against the government’s decision to postpone elections for Hong Kong’s legislature, police said.

The elections were to have taken place Sunday but Chief Executive Carrie Lam on July 31 postponed them for one year.

Lam blamed an upsurge in COVID-19 cases, but critics said her government worried the opposition would gain seats if voting went ahead on schedule.

Police said that 289 people had been arrested, mostly for unlawful assembly.

One woman was arrested on charges of assault and spreading pro-independence slogans, the police department said on its Facebook page. Such slogans are illegal under a newly enacted national security law.

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Anti-government protests erupted last year over a proposed extradition law and spread to include demands for greater democracy and criticism of Beijing’s efforts to tighten control over the former British colony.

The ruling Communist Party’s decision to impose the law in May prompted complaints it was violating the autonomy promised to the territory and cracking down on the Western-style freedoms Hong Kong had enjoyed since its 1997 handover to China.

Also Sunday, police fired pepper balls at protesters in Mongkok neighborhood, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.

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In a nearby neighborhood, protesters raised a banner criticizing the election delay, the Post said.

“I want my right to vote!” activist Leung Kwok-hung was quoted as saying. The newspaper said Leung was later arrested.

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