Monday 19 August 2019

The Vamps stranded by Hong Kong protests

The band described themselves as ‘pro-democracy and pro-protest’.

The Vamps were stranded in the airport (Peter Byrne/PA)
The Vamps were stranded in the airport (Peter Byrne/PA)

By Craig Simpson, PA

The Vamps have been caught up in ongoing pro-democracy protests taking place in Hong Kong.

James McVey and Brad Simpson from the UK band have spoken about being grounded at the busy airport amid continued demonstrations.

The musicians have said they do not resent the hold-up and have voiced their “pro-democracy” stance.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, McVey said that he had been stranded in the airport for 24 hours and had been forced to alter tour dates.

But the band does not begrudge the protesters their right to demonstrate.

McVey said: “We are very much pro-democracy and pro-protest. We are fine to sleep on the floor if it means people’s rights are listened to. We have no problem with that.”

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Protesters stage a sit-in at the departures area of Hong Kong International Airport (Vincent Thian/AP)

Bandmate Simpson added: “It’s been a funny old experience. We’ve had to unfortunately push back the show of ours that we were playing. We were on the way to Indonesia.

“That’s always a big concern letting down people who have bought tickets.

“We are trying to get out to Indonesia as quickly as possible to see those guys.”

British tourists have also been caught up in the chaos at the airport. Ross Sexton was flying home to London from his honeymoon in Bali when he found himself stranded at the airport on Tuesday evening.

He said: “Check in desks have been taken over and people are smoking on the conveyer belts, entrances have been blocked off to get food and you have to now climb through four rows of check in desks to get anywhere. It’s like something out of a film.

“Riot police everywhere, absolute chaos at Hong Kong now. Hiding under check in desks as far away from the trouble as possible.

“Protesters now barricading entrance and exits to the airport. Everything has gone scarily quiet as protesters move further down the terminal.”

Comedian Bill Bailey was also among the passengers caught up in the disruption at the airport.

He tweeted a video of police confronting the protesters at Terminal 1 and, in a separate tweet, said that protesters had been “concerned for our safety, they offered water and apologised for the inconvenience.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live Drive, Bailey told of the “chaos” he has experienced at the airport.

He said: “There was real desperation among these young people. This has gone, I think, beyond more than this Extradition Bill, this is more about these young people’s future, about the freedoms that they’ll experience and enjoy in the future in Hong Kong.

“One of them said to me tonight, ‘the Airport is our last chance … it’s our last hope’.

“They’ve tried protesting in the streets. The police are very heavy-handed and they’ve used baton charges and pepper spray and tear gas, because they can sort of get away with it really. There was riot police beating up protesters, guns being pulled, and meanwhile, downstairs, there’s tourists just blindly just sort of pushing their luggage through the airport trying to check-in.

“It’s chaos. The police can’t start firing baton rounds into an international airport. This is why the protesters have decamped to the airport, because they think this is where, hopefully, their message will get through.”

Flights resumed at the airport on Tuesday, although more than 100 remained cancelled a day after protesters forced one of the world’s busiest transport hubs to shut down to highlight their calls for an independent inquiry into alleged police abuse and fears over new legislation that could have seen criminal suspects sent to mainland China.

PA Media

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