HONG KONG — At least 90 people were arrested Sunday at protests against the government’s decision to postpone elections for Hong Kong’s legislature, police and a news report said.
The elections were to have taken place Sunday but Chief Executive Carrie Lam on July 31 postponed them for one year. Lam blamed an upsurge in coronavirus cases, but critics said her government worried the opposition would gain seats if voting went ahead on schedule.
Anti-government protests have been held in Hong Kong almost every weekend since June 2019. They erupted over a proposed extradition law and spread to include demands for greater democracy and criticism of Beijing’s efforts to tighten control over the former British colony.
On Sunday, one woman was arrested in the Kowloon district of Yau Ma Tei on charges of assault and spreading pro-independence slogans, the police department said on its Facebook page. It said such slogans are illegal under the newly enacted National Security Act.
The ruling Communist Party’s decision to impose the law in May prompted complaints it was violating the autonomy promised to the territory when it was returned to China in 1997. Washington withdrew trading privileges granted to Hong Kong and other governments suspended extradition and other agreements on the grounds that the territory of 7 million people is no longer autonomous.
Also Sunday, police fired pepper balls at protesters in Kowloon’s Mong Kok neighborhood, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.
At least 90 people were arrested, most of them on suspicion of illegal assembly, the police department said on a separate social media account.
In the Jordan neighborhood, protesters raised a banner criticizing the election delay, the Post said.
“I want my right to vote!” activist Leung Kwok-hung, popularly known as Long Hair, was quoted as saying. The newspaper said Leung was later arrested.
Top administration officials on Sunday said they’ve never heard President Donald Trump make disparaging remarks about veterans or the military, a subtle attempt to dispute a report in The Atlantic. But the president’s top defender was the president himself.
Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, reported last week that Trump in November 2018 told senior staff that the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris was “filled with losers” and that in a separate conversation he called the 1,800 Marines who died at Belleau Wood “suckers” for getting killed.
Trump was also furious when the White House lowered flags to half-staff following Arizona Sen. John McCain’s death, Goldberg reported, and the president told senior staff that they wouldn’t “support that loser’s funeral,” adding that the war hero “was a f–king loser.” Goldberg reported that Trump made similar comments about President George H.W. Bush, whose plane was shot down during World War II.
The Associated Press, Washington Post, New York Times, CNN and Fox News all confirmed some elements of The Atlantic’s 1,500-word report, but Trump and his allies have denied since Thursday that he made such comments.
On Sunday, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie credited Trump for what he called a “renaissance” at the VA and grouped the allegations with past stories citing unnamed officials that the president has dismissed as fake news and hoaxes.
“I think anonymous are the same people that brought you fake heart attacks, fake strokes, Russian collusion,” Wilkie told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”
“I see the proof in the pudding,” he added. “The proof in the pudding is our military is stronger, and our Veterans Affairs Department is in a place that it has never been. This is the renaissance, and it’s all because of one man.”
Wilkie downplayed Trump’s past comments toward McCain, whom the president in 2015 said was not a war hero, as “politics” in the “heat of a campaign.” Trump, however, was running for president while McCain was seeking reelection in the Senate.