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Police question 7 over banned assembly in main square

Seven people were taken in for questioning at a police station Monday night for acting suspiciously at Largo do Senado.

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ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:45 am

The Public Security Police (PSP) said in a statement that seven people – six males and a female – were taken in for questioning at a police station Monday night for acting suspiciously in the city’s main square, Largo do Senado.

According to the statement, the septet comprised four locals, two mainlanders and a Hong Kong resident.

The statement also said that the police had deployed “additional” forces in Largo do Senado Monday night to maintain public order.

Meanwhile, the Judiciary Police (PJ) said in a statement that 26 of their officers conducted a routine anti-crime operation around casinos in the city, Rua da Felicidade and Largo do Senado between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Monday. A total of 30 people were questioned during three-hour operation. However, the PJ statement pointed out that none of the 30 people were taken in for questioning.

According to local Chinese-language media reports, PJ officers questioned some of the people in the nearby underground car park of the Financial Services Bureau (DSF).

Residents and tourists reported a strong police presence in Largo do Senado last night, estimating the number of police officers in the square and surrounding streets and lanes at several dozen.

Curiosity seekers

The police presence temporarily attracted a crowd of curiosity seekers, among them many mainlanders, who tried to find out what was going on, a resident living near the square told The Macau Post Daily late Monday night. “Some of the tourists thought that a big crime had happened there and they were obviously curious to find out what was going on,” the resident said on condition of anonymity, adding that none of them appeared to have been aware of the fact that a rally to protest against alleged police violence in Hong Kong had previously been planned to be held in the square that night.

The Public Security Police announced on Thursday that they would not allow an assembly planned for Monday in Largo do Senado – a “standing in silence” gathering against alleged police brutality in Hong Kong. PSP spokesman Wong Wai Chon said on Thursday that the decision to disallow the protest was in line with Macau’s Assembly and Demonstration Law, as the planned gathering “aimed to express support for the ongoing illegal acts by violent protesters” in Hong Kong.

According to local media reports on Wednesday, an unidentified individual had planned to hold the gathering at 8 p.m. on August 19.

‘Standing in silence’

Last week’s media reports said that a poster by the organiser(s) urging residents to participate in the “standing in silence” had started to circulate on the Internet on Wednesday.

The poster called for participants to “stand in silence” in a “legal, rational and peaceful” way in Largo do Senado against the alleged “use of violence by the Hong Kong police towards residents”. The local media reports did not say whether the organiser who had notified the police of his or her intention to organise the assembly was a local or a Hong Kong resident.

According to the law regulating assemblies and demonstrations, groups of 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 Public Security Police can ban “an assembly or demonstration that intends to violate the law” from taking place.

If the police decide not to allow the assembly or demonstration to be carried out, they are required to inform the organiser about the decision by letter up to 28 hours before the planned time of the assembly or demonstration.

PSP spokesman Wong said during Thursday’s press conference that the police had assessed the planned assembly and that the assessment showed that its organisation aimed to voice support for the ongoing illegal activities in Hong Kong. Wong also said that the organisation of the planned assembly would possibly cause some local residents to copy the modus operandi of the violent protesters in Hong Kong, and then express their views and demands in a way that violates Macau’s law.

According to local media reports at the weekend, the organiser(s) of the planned gathering urged the public not to gather in Largo do Senado in the wake of the decision by the Public Security Police to disallow the assembly.

While some members of Macau’s legal fraternity criticised the decision by the police to ban the gathering, Macau Lawyers Association (AAM) President Jorge Neto Valente welcomed it, telling government-owned broadcaster TDM late last week that the decision was justified and legal.

Macau’s non-establishment lawmakers Ng Kuok Cheong, Au Kam San and Sulu Sou Ka Hou told reporters late last week that they had nothing to do with the planned assembly. However, Sou deplored the decision by the police to stop the assembly from going ahead, expressing doubts about its legality.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:45 am

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