Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters defied a government ban on wearing face masks as they formed a human chain across the city battered by four months of unrest.
Many participants donned cartoon character and Guy Fawkes masks (now also a symbol of the Anonymous group), while others took a stab at restrictions by taking on the guise of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
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Protesters donned masks bearing the face of Chinese President Xi Jinping, in an apparent attempt to mock the mainland leader
Other protesters wore masks depicting prominent rights activist Jimmy Sham, who was beaten by four men wielding hammers and knives on Wednesday in what democracy campaigners said was an act of intimidation.
Protesters aimed to form a 40-kilometer (25-mile) human chain tracing the city’s subway system in a repeat of a similar protest in August.
The autonomous city’s government earlier this month invoked colonial-era emergency laws banning face masks at protests. Lam said the restriction on masks, which have been a constant feature at protests, was meant to deter radical behavior.
Protesters say they wear the masks to remain anonymous and avoid their identities being shared with China’s state security services.
Friday’s lighthearted protest came as pro-democracy organziers said they planned to stage a major march on Sunday despite police determining it illegal.
Police said they would not allow the march because past events had been “hijacked by a group of radical protesters” who vandalized property and clashed with police.
The ban sets the stage for possibly violent confrontatations between police and protesters worried about China encroaching on Hong Kong’s special status.
cw/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)