Demonstrators, police prepare for another weekend of protests in Hong Kong

This combination photo shows masked protesters during protests in Hong Kong Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. Hong Kong protesters masqueraded as Winnie the Pooh, Guy Fawkes and other characters in defiance of a government ban on face coverings at public gatherings. (AP Photo)

Hong Kong anti-government protesters are set for another weekend of civil disobedience as they prepare to hold an unauthorized protest march to press their demands.

Supporters held a prayer rally on Saturday night to call for international help for their cause. The protest march is planned for Sunday, with organizers vowing to hold the event even though it failed to win approval from police, who cited risks to public order.

As the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s political crisis extends into a fifth month, protesters are trying to keep the pressure on the government to respond to their demands, including full democracy and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality.

They’re also using Sunday’s rally to raise a more recent demand for the government to scrap a ban installed this month on face masks at public gatherings.

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Organizers said demonstrators would defy the police because Hong Kong’s constitution guarantees the right to protest.

“We don’t think that because police haven’t given their approval we shouldn’t demonstrate,” Figo Chan, vice-convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, told reporters. “Even though they have rejected our appeal, there will surely be many residents taking to the streets.”

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Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez wrote to tech company Apple and video game studio Activision Blizzard to condemn what they called protest-related censorship on behalf of China.

Click to play video: 'Group plans to give out thousands of pro-Hong Kong T-shirts to Raptors fans ahead of season opener'
Group plans to give out thousands of pro-Hong Kong T-shirts to Raptors fans ahead of season opener

The group urged Apple to reverse its decision to remove from its app store the crowdsourced mapping app HKMaplive that was used to report police locations so that they could be avoided.

They also wrote separately to Activision to reconsider its decision to suspend a Hong Kong gamer after he voiced support for the protesters during an interview.

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“Cases like these raise real concerns about whether Apple and other large U.S. entities will bow to growing Chinese demands rather than lose access to more than a billion Chinese consumers,” said the letter, cosigned by Sens. Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden and Reps. Mike Gallagher and Tom Malinowski.

The lawmakers also cited China’s pressure on the NBA after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of the protesters. On Friday night, some basketball fans held signs, wore shirts and chanted support for Hong Kong at a Brooklyn Nets preseason game.

One sign called out LeBron James and Nets owner Joe Tsai, co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, who were critical of Morey’s tweet. Tsai wrote a Facebook post explaining why the since-deleted tweet upset China.

Also Saturday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said the murder suspect whose case inadvertently helped ignite the city’s protest movement wants to surrender to authorities in Taiwan after he’s released from prison later this week for a different offence.

Lam said on a radio show that Chan Tong-Kai’s decision to surrender has led to a “relatively relieving” conclusion to the case.

Chan is wanted by Taiwanese authorities for allegedly killing his girlfriend during a trip to the self-ruled island last year but wasn’t sent back to face charges because there’s no extradition agreement, though he was jailed in Hong Kong on money laundering charges.

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Lam had tried to resolve the case by proposing extradition amendments, but the bill sparked massive protests over fears they would put Hong Kong residents at risk of being sent into mainland China’s Communist Party-controlled judicial system.

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