The head of the Hong Kong government condemned the violence committed yesterday by groups of protesters who vandalized shops and subway stations, ensuring the population is frightened.
"These violent acts by rioters are causing a very dark night for Hong Kong and society is partially paralyzed today," Carrie Lam said in a video message.
The official added that "everyone is very worried and even scared."
Earlier, Hong Kong Security Secretary John Lee had warned that the lack of an explicit condemnation of violence by local people was fueling the actions of protest groups.
"What is fueling the violence is the people's support for these acts," the official acknowledged, rejecting the accusations that the ban on the use of masks in illegal demonstrations announced by Lam on Friday, and already in force, “set the flames”.
“Everyone should leave [à rua] to say 'no, society will not accept violence,' ”he said.
According to the Associated Press news agency, two activists filed an appeal on Friday afternoon against the ban, claiming the measure will settle fear and undermine freedom of assembly, but a court denied the request.
The closure of the entire rail network, responsible for more than four million daily journeys, took place for the first time since, in almost four months, the territory has been the scene of almost daily demonstrations against the government, in the worst crisis since the transfer of United Kingdom sovereignty to China in 1997.
The subway and train network operator said services would be closed all day today, public radio RTHK reported.
The night was marked by arson attacks, looting, clashes with police and assaults, roadblocks, the vandalization of subway stations and shops with connections to China. Police resorted to tear gas grenades to disperse protesters.
With the 'anti-mask law' last used during the 1967 riots, the Hong Kong Government intends to 'end violence and restore order' and the ban only targets people who participate in illegal demonstrations and those who resort to violence.
Although the exceptional measure is justified by the “situation of great public danger” in the territory, a state of emergency has not been declared in Hong Kong, Carrie Lam said.
At the root of the dispute that has been taking place in the Chinese Special Administrative Region since the beginning of June is a controversial proposal to amend the extradition law, already formally withdrawn by the Hong Kong Government.
However, protesters continue to demand that the Government respond to four other demands: the release of detained protesters, that protest actions are not identified as riots, an independent inquiry into police violence, and finally the dismissal of the head of government and consequent election by universal suffrage to this office and to the Legislative Council, the Hong Kong Parliament.
The transfer of sovereignty of the former colony from the United Kingdom to China in 1997 took place under the principle of 'one country, two systems'.
As with Macao, for Hong Kong a period of 50 years with a high degree of autonomy was agreed at executive, legislative and judicial level, with the Chinese central government being responsible for foreign affairs and defense.