The Latest: HK protesters wear masks before ban takes effect

World

Protesters wear masks and hold up their hands represent the five demands in Hong Kong on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters marched in the city center ahead of reported plans by the city’s embattled leader to deploy emergency powers to ban people from wearing masks in a bid to quash four months of anti-government demonstrations. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

HONG KONG (AP) — The Latest on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests (all times local):

6:20 p.m.

Thousands of protesters in masks are streaming into Hong Kong streets after the territory’s leader invoked rarely used emergency powers to ban masks at rallies.

Immediately defying the ban set to take force Saturday, chanting protesters are cramming streets in the central business district and elsewhere, the majority wearing masks of the type that will be outlawed in gatherings from midnight.

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5:20 p.m.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam should quit over months-long pro-democracy protests and predicts Beijing would send its military to end the crisis.

Mahathir, the world’s oldest leader at 94, says Lam “is in a dilemma” as she is caught between obeying China’s ruling Communist Party and trying to appease angry citizens.

Speaking in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, Mahathir said: “She has to obey the masters (but) at the same time, she has to ask her conscience. Her conscience says the people of Hong Kong are right in rejecting the law.”

Mahathir says that for Lam, the “best thing is to resign.”

Just like China sent the military to crush the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in Beijing, Mahathir says, “I think in the end, that is what China will do” in Hong Kong.

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4:55 p.m.

A government document detailing the mask ban at Hong Kong protests that will be enforced Saturday says it will not just cover unauthorized or illegal assemblies but also apply to gatherings approved by police.

The document was given to reporters during Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s news conference.

Secretary of Security John Lee Ka-Chiu says the ban covers any procession with over 30 people and assemblies of more than 50 people.

Lam, who attended China’s National Day festivities in Beijing this week, says the ban was her own government’s decision, not an order from Beijing. She also reiterated she won’t quit, saying her departure wouldn’t resolve the crisis.

She denied the move was a step closer to authoritarian rule, saying she used a valid legislation to restore order. She also urged the international community to understand her government’s plight and have “sympathy.”

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4:10 p.m.

The mask ban being imposed in Hong Kong to quell anti-government demonstrations carries a penalty of up to a year in jail.

The ban takes effect Saturday and applies to people at “illegal” gatherings engaged in violence. Protesters during the four months of anti-government demonstrations have commonly used masks to shield their identities and protect themselves from possible tear gas.

Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-Chiu says the mask ban will carry a jail sentence for up to a one year or a fine. He says protesters will also be prohibited from painting their faces to hide their identity.

The ban exempts people who wear masks for legitimate reasons, like medical masks or religious face coverings. But police officers can ask anyone in a public place to remove their mask. Those who resist could face up to six months in jail.

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3:50 p.m.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam says she isn’t declaring a state of emergency despite deploying a colonial-era emergency law to impose the mask ban.

Lam says Hong Kong “isn’t in a state of emergency” but faces “extensive and very serious danger” after an alarming rise in violence during widespread protests on Tuesday.

She said the government will table legislation on the mask ban when the Legislative Council resumes Oct. 16 and it be vetted then.

Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-Chiu says the mask ban will carry a jail sentence for up to a one year or a fine. He says protesters will also be prohibited from painting their faces to hide their identity.

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3:15 p.m.

The Hong Kong leader has banned protesters from wearing masks to conceal their identities in a hardening of the government’s stance against the 4-month-old demonstrations.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s use of sweeping security legislation hasn’t been invoked since Hong Kong riots in 1967, and allows her to bypass the city’s legislature.

It marks a dramatic toughening in her response to the most serious crisis to wrack the freewheeling hub for international trade and business since the territory reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Lam says the decision will come into force Saturday. She says, “We must stop the violence.”

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1:30 p.m.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has scheduled a news conference Friday afternoon amid reports she will ban masks in a bid to quash four months of anti-government demonstrations.

The government announced the news conference will be held at 3 p.m.

Local media reported Carrie Lam will bypass the legislature to deploy emergency powers in a hardening of her government’s stance to the territory’s most disruptive crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

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1:20 p.m.

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters marched in the city center ahead of reported plans by the city’s embattled leader to deploy emergency powers to ban people from wearing masks in a bid to quash four months of anti-government demonstrations.

Local media reported Carrie Lam will bypass the legislature to announce the mask ban later Friday, in a hardening of her government’s stance to the territory’s most disruptive crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Lam’s office declined to comment when contacted.

Thousands of people, all wearing masks, chanted slogans calling for greater democracy as they marched Friday in the city’s business district. One protester, who gave his surname as Lui, said the people will not be intimidated by the government’s scare tactic.

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