Saturday 17 August 2019

Hong Kong protesters clash with police amid reports of riot charges

Hong Kong police said the rioters set up roadblocks, broke fences, damaged street signs and attacked police officers with bricks and iron rods.

Hong Kong police officers use pepper spray against protesters (Steve Leung/HK01 via AP)
Hong Kong police officers use pepper spray against protesters (Steve Leung/HK01 via AP)

By Katie Tam, Associated Press

Protesters have clashed with police again in Hong Kong after reports that some of their detained colleagues would be charged with rioting.

Several hundred protesters mobilised in the streets outside a police station after 44 people were arrested on riot charges stemming from a demonstration on Sunday night.

Hong Kong police said the rioters set up roadblocks, broke fences, damaged street signs and attacked police officers with bricks and iron rods.

ipanews_8adf2246-1d67-4055-b440-54eb81d54df7_embedded244396272
A protester gestures as hundreds of protesters gather near Kwai Chung police station in Hong Kong (AP/Vincent Yu)

One of the accused is a 33-year-old man who was also charged with assaulting a police officer.

The accused rioters and a 24-year-old man charged with weapons possession will appear in court on Wednesday.

A total of 49 people, including 32 men and 17 women between the ages of 16 and 41, had initially been arrested from the scene. Hong Kong police said it “will not rule out the possibility of further arrest” as it investigates the four others released temporarily or out on bail.

Live video streamed by Hong Kong media showed protesters chanting slogans and throwing eggs at the Kwai Chung police station. Police used pepper spray to try to disperse them.

The unannounced protest capped another day of unrest. During the morning rush hour, commuters argued with demonstrators who blocked subway train doors in their continuing movement to demand greater accountability from the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s government.

Service was delayed and partially suspended on the Island and Kwun Tong lines, subway operator MTR said. It cited “a number of train door obstructions” as well as someone activating a safety device at a platform on the Kwun Tong line.

ipanews_8adf2246-1d67-4055-b440-54eb81d54df7_embedded244395080
Protesters use an umbrella to block a surveillance camera (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

The action targeted rush hour traffic at several stations. MTR responded by providing minibuses to replace delayed trains, and normal service was restored by around noon.

Protester Ken Chan said he wanted MTR officials to explain why they allegedly failed to take action on July 21 when a large gang of men in white shirts brutally beat dozens of people inside a train station as a massive protest was winding down.

Hong Kong’s government and the central authorities in Beijing have blamed protesters for sparking the confrontation.

The disruption is part of a pro-democracy movement that has seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets this summer for marches and rallies. The protests have shaken the government in Hong Kong and raised concerns in Beijing. Hong Kong is part of China, but it has a fair degree of autonomy in local affairs.

Posts on Twitter showed long lines of commuters waiting for free shuttle buses provided by MTR to other subway stops. Protesters conducted a similar action to block trains last week.

Activists began protesting in early June for the government to withdraw an extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to stand trial in mainland China, where critics say their legal rights would be threatened. The government suspended the bill, but the protests have expanded to calls for democracy and government accountability.

PA Media

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News