INTERNET ARTICLE 23

A homemade explosive went off in Hong Kong amid protests over an internet free-speech bill

A homemade explosive device went off in a rubbish bin outside Hong Kong’s legislative council building yesterday evening (Dec. 9), after a planned rally against a controversial bill was cancelled.

Two men in surgical masks were seen setting fire to an object and throwing it in the rubbish bin in the planned demonstration zone outside the Legislative Council at about 8:30pm yesterday, police told the South China Morning Post (paywall). The two fled the scene after the explosion. No one was injured, and the case is being investigated as arson. A container of butane commonly used for mobile stoves was left near the bin.

A YouTube video showing the bin catching on fire appeared shortly after the explosion:

Legislative Council chairman Jasper Tsang condemned the act, and urged authorities to “arrest the culprits and bring them to justice,” in a statement.

A rally with some 5,000 participants was scheduled to take place outside Hong Kong’s legislature yesterday at 7pm as the new bill, which deals with copyright on the internet, was being discussed. The legislative debate was delayed because too few lawmakers showed up.

The Copyright Amendment Bill, dubbed “Internet Article 23″—a reference to Hong Kong’s controversial Basic Law Article 23—is opposed by some in Hong Kong as a threat to the freedom of expression and creation. Unlike the US legal principle of “fair use,” the copyright bill specifies six purposes (paywall) for copyrighted materials online, worrying activists and online parodists that their work may become illegal, or they will be forced to self-censor.

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