Large crowds of protesters are beginning their march from Victoria Park (Causeway Bay) as of 15:00 (local time) on Sunday, December 8, as part of the demonstration organized by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF). Protesters are expected to march down Chater Road (Central) throughout the afternoon. A heightened police presence has been reported at MTR stations in Central and Causeway Bay. Earlier in the afternoon, riot police officers raised black flags in Causeway Bay, indicating that tear gas will be used to disperse the crowds, but the flags were later lowered without any incident. However, use of tear gas and pepper spray, as well as other means, may be used by police officers in the coming hours. Clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
Significant transportation disruptions, including road and MTR station closures, are likely in the downtown area during the protest. Associated commercial disruptions are also anticipated in the coming hours. Up-to-date information on train service and possible station closures can be found on the MTR website here.
Further protests may be organized with little warning over the near term and a heightened security presence is likely across Hong Kong until the political situation in the city fully stabilizes. Severe transportation and business disruptions are to be expected during all periods of protest activity.
Pro-democracy candidates won 389 of the 452 seats in the territory's district council elections on November 24. The pro-democracy movement victory, along with the high turnout (71%) of the vote, suggest that the public continues to support protests, although tensions have significantly escalated across Hong Kong since November 11, after a police officer shot a protester in Sai Wan Ho.
On September 4, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill, which would have allowed authorities in Hong Kong to extradite fugitives wanted in mainland China and other territories. The bill sparked mass protests of up to 2 million people throughout Hong Kong since June 9. However, protest actions have continued since the government's announcement, as protesters' demands evolved into a wider pro-democracy movement, calling for government reforms and police accountability over violence.
Demonstrations have spread from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and the New Territories in recent weeks and have also become increasingly violent. Activists have also accused the police of using unnecessary force in their attempts to disperse protesters.
Individuals in Hong Kong are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests and demonstrations, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business around protest sites, confirm the status of their flights prior to departure for the airport, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
Individuals are also advised to avoid wearing black and white colors around protest zones or rallies as they are associated with protesters.