Montreal Police Say They Never Warned Montreal Pride About Threats To Hong Kong Activists
- Montreal Pride did not allow Hong Kong activists to march in the Pride Parade, citing, in part, police information about threats of "sabotage."
- The SPVM says they never contacted Montreal Pride about such threats. MTL Blog reached out to the RCMP to inquire about any action they may have taken.
Earlier this week, we reported that the organizers of Montreal's annual Pride Parade on August 18th barred the group Action Free Hong Kong MTL, Montreal-based Hong Kong activists, from participating in the parade due to fears of, according to Pride's original email to FreeHKMTL, "a potential attempt to sabotage the parade by pro-Communists in response to your participation in the parade. Indeed, it seems that some groups would like to intervene in the parade to protest against your participation."
Pride claimed that the police informed them of this. However, the SPVM and the Sûreté du Québec claim that they never contacted Fierté Montréal about the potential of a pro-communist response.
"After verification, it does not seem like anyone from the SPVM contacted the organizers of Fierté Montréal's Pride Parade concerning militant groups of pro-communist Chinese protesters [translated from French]," an SPVM spokesperson told MTL Blog.
The SQ told us that they "have no information to transmit on a territory that is not served by the Sûreté du Québec."
We reached out to the RCMP to inquire about any action they may have taken. They have not responded to our request.
Fierté Montréal did not respond for comment.
In a statement to MTL Blog Monday afternoon, Pride representatives wrote that "FreeHKMTL was welcomed to march four days before the Parade. We made an exception and found a spot for the group since the registrations were closed and complete two weeks prior to the Parade."
"We received threats of sabotage the day before the Parade and had no choice to take the unfortunate decision to remove FreeHKMTL from the Parade for safety reasons and given our policy to not interfere in geopolitical conflicts. The Parade is an extremely important day for all people of sexual and gender diversity and it is with the objective that all can walk safely that this decision was taken."
Originally, Pride organizers had told FreeHKMTL that police authorities had alerted them to the threats.
A contingent of LGBTQ members of FreeHKMTL was invited to march in the Pride Parade to show support for their community and to raise awareness about the on-going tensions in Hong Kong.
Henry Lam, member of FreeHKMTL insists that FreeHKMTL's participation in the parade was meant to be "non-political." Though they confirmed the threats as viable, FreeHKMTL was "saddened and disappointed that civil rights must yield to such threats."
"Such blatant threats have reached an alarming level worldwide, to the extent that many voices sympathetic to the HK cause could end up being silenced," says Henry Lam.
Another unconfirmed report claims that the Founder of a Hong Kong-based LGBTQ group, Gay Harmony was followed by a large number of pro-communist demonstrators during the parade and was told he wasn't allowed to march next to Liberal Party supporters.
Amidst rising tensions and violent clashes in Hong Kong between pro-democracy activists and police, there have been many reports of similar incidents at Pride events across Canada.
In response to the latest police statement, Free Hong Kong MTL says that "we're deeply concerned with the response of the SPVM police. From the email we received from Montreal Pride on Aug 17, it is stated that 'we have received police information of a potential attempt to sabotage the parade by pro-Communists in response to your participation in the parade.' We hope Montreal Pride will be able to respond to the SPVM statement and make it clear who is behind the decision to remove Hong Kong team from Montreal Pride."
We will update this story as it develops.