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Police confirm 7 questioned over banned assembly, ‘but no arrests’

Seven people were taken for questioning to a police station on Monday night for further identity — none were arrested.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:45 am

The Public Security Police (PSP) said on Tuesday that seven people were taken for questioning to a police station on Monday night from the city’s main square since their personal information needed to be further verified or because they could not provide identity documents at the scene, PSP spokesman Lei Tak Fai said during a regular press conference yesterday at the Judiciary Police (PJ) headquarters, adding that none of them were arrested.

Lei also said that the police had checked the seven people’s personal information in line with their internal guidelines and experience.

Lei pointed out that a plan to hold an assembly in Largo do Senado on Monday night was turned down by the police last week, and therefore individuals present in the square on Monday night carrying promotional materials related to the banned assembly could be regarded as participants in the banned assembly, which would have been illegal.

Consequently, Lei said, the police had “legitimate reasons and the power” to take the seven people in for further questioning. Lei added that “some” of the seven people had “promotional materials” on them when they were approached by the police such as stickers alleging violence by the Hong Kong police during the recent anti-government protests in the neighbouring special administrative region.

The original aim of the assembly was to “stand in silence” against alleged violence by the police in Hong Kong. The police have not announced who notified them about the plan to hold the assembly in the city’s main square.

According to the law regulating assemblies and demonstrations in Macau, groups or individuals who plan to hold an assembly or a demonstration are required to notify the Public Security Police by letter between three and 15 working days in advance.

According to the same law, the police can ban “an assembly or demonstration that intends to violate the law” from taking place. This is what, according to the police, happened last week.

Macau’s non-establishment lawmakers Ng Kuok Cheong, Au Kam San and Sulu Sou Ka Hou insisted late last week that they had nothing to do with the planned assembly, which originally was slated to start at 8 p.m. on Monday.

Several dozen PSP officers are estimated to have been on patrol in and around the square on Monday night. Their presence came as an apparent surprise to tourists, mostly mainlanders, who happened to be in the square at that time.

Lei said there had been “no political motive” behind the decision by the police to question the seven people at a police station in the northern district. According to Chinese-language media reports, the seven people – six males and a female – were taken in batches to the police station in the northern district from Largo do Senado (colloquially known in English as Senado Square) between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Monday. The reports also said that four were locals, two were mainlanders and one was a Hong Kong citizen.

Lei added that the questioning took several hours as it was “conducted in a strict and rigorous manner”. Lei pointed out that some were allowed to leave the police station at 10 p.m. on Monday while the last two were allowed to leave at 2 a.m.

Meanwhile, Judiciary Police (PJ) spokeswoman Lei Hon Nei said that during a “routine” anti-crime operation in the city centre between Largo do Senado and Rua da Felicidade on Monday night no arrests were made. She said the operation had been conducted in accordance with PJ guidelines. The operation took place around the same time that the banned assembly was originally planned to be held.

A total of 30 people, most of them wearing white T-shirts, were taken to an underground car park of the Financial Services Bureau (DSF) for personal identification purposes, Lei said. During the operation, no weapons were found, Lei added. After checking the 30 people’s identification documents, all of them were allowed to leave the scene, Lei pointed out.

According to the Macau Post Daily, the 30 individuals comprised 26 local residents – 25 males and one female, three mainlanders and a Thai national, Lei said.

According to unconfirmed social media reports last week, unidentified individuals had threatened to “take action” if the assembly would go ahead even though it had been banned by the police.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:45 am

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