Hong Kong protesters don cartoon faces to defy mask ban

Protesters defy the mask ban in Hong Kong

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have donned cartoon character masks as they formed a human chain across the semi-autonomous Chinese city, in defiance of a government ban on face coverings.

Gathering along the city’s subway lines on Friday night, protest supporters masqueraded as characters including Winnie the Pooh and Guy Fawkes.

The protesters were taking a light-hearted approach to oppose the government’s decision to invoke colonial-era emergency regulations banning face masks at rallies as it struggles to contain the chaotic protest movement.

Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has said the ban on masks, which have become a hallmark of the protests, is aimed at deterring radical behaviour.

But the protesters say they wear them out of fear of retribution and concern that their identities will be shared with China’s massive state security apparatus.

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