Sunday 25 August 2019

Violence looms in latest Hong Kong protest

Nathan Law, Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow attend a news conference on the proposed extradition bill, near the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong. Photo: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Nathan Law, Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow attend a news conference on the proposed extradition bill, near the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong. Photo: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Nicola Smith

Hong Kong was bracing for potential violence today after student groups warned of an escalation in protests over the government's refusal to meet an ultimatum on a controversial extradition law.

Protesters, who have clogged the centre of the global financial hub with mass demonstrations in recent weeks, had demanded the resignation of Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive, the retraction of the bill, and police accountability over the firing of rubber bullets and tear gas at a rally last week. The authorities said the government offices would close today "due to security considerations" ahead of a fresh protest that was due to start at 7am.

The bill, allowing suspects to be extradited to face trial in China, prompted the largest demonstrations since Hong Kong's handover to Beijing in 1997. A record-breaking rally on Sunday, which organisers claim topped two million people, was carried out peacefully. But the city is still reeling from violent clashes between riot police and protesters on July 12.

Last night, plans for the latest protests were still unclear in a movement that is leaderless and largely driven by group brainstorming on social media. Protesters discussed picnics, blocking toll roads and laying siege to government and police headquarters. Many called for the protests to be calm, but fears are building that the government's failure to act on public demands could spark further violence.

This week, a viral video of Wu Chi-wai, the head of the Democratic Party, braving gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to call off riot police last Wednesday, sparked online praise.

Irish Independent

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