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Hong Kong protesters don cartoon masks to defy face mask ban

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters are donning cartoon character masks as they form a human chain across the semiautonomous 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 Winnie the Pooh and Guy Fawkes.

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The protesters were taking a lighthearted 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.

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

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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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