News World News

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Violence flares after Hong Kong protesters defy police ban

Demonstrators lobbed Molotov cocktails outside the Central Government Complex.

An anti-government protester throws a Molotov cocktail during a demonstration near Central Government Complex in Hong Kong (Vincent Yu/AP)
An anti-government protester throws a Molotov cocktail during a demonstration near Central Government Complex in Hong Kong (Vincent Yu/AP)

By Eileen Ng and Phoebe Lai, Associated Press

Police have fired chemical-laced blue water and tear gas at protesters who lobbed Molotov cocktails outside the Hong Kong government office complex.

Violence flared anew on Sunday after thousands of pro-democracy supporters marched in defiance of a police ban.

A mixed crowd of hardcore protesters in black and wearing masks, along with families with children, spilled into the roads of the Causeway Bay shopping belt and marched for more than a mile to the central business district.

ipanews_d1e1b68c-5184-4c3b-b0c0-19f872d5e398_embedded245274062
Anti-government protesters are sprayed by a water cannon (Kin Cheung/AP)

Some waved US and British flags, while others carried posters reiterating their calls for democratic reforms.

Police had turned down a request by the Civil Human Rights Front to hold the march, but the demonstrators were undeterred, as they’ve been all summer.

Protester Winnie Leung, 50, said: “I feel this is our duty. The government wants to block us with the ban but I want to say that the people will not be afraid.”

The march disrupted traffic and many shops, including the Sogo department store, closed their doors.

Protesters burned Chinese flags and tore down banners congratulating China’s ruling Communist Party, which will celebrate its 70th year in power on October 1.

In familiar scenes, some protesters smashed glass windows and surveillance cameras at a subway station exit.

ipanews_d1e1b68c-5184-4c3b-b0c0-19f872d5e398_embedded245273374
An anti-government protester throws a Molotov cocktail during a demonstration near the Central Government Complex (Kin Cheung/AP)

Hundreds of protesters later targeted the government office complex, throwing bricks and petrol bombs through police barriers.

Police responded by firing volleys of tear gas and using water cannon lorries to spray chemical-laced water as well as blue liquid that helped them identify offenders, in a repeat of confrontational scenes from the last several weeks of the protests.

Protesters retreated but regrouped in the nearby Wan Chai neighbourhood, setting fires outside a subway station exit and on the streets.

They fled again after riot police advanced and the cat-and-mouse battles went on for a few hours before calm returned.

Police fired tear gas again later in the nearby North Point area after protesters obstructed traffic after brawling there earlier with pro-government supporters.

Hospital authorities said eight people were injured throughout the day, including three in serious condition.

ipanews_d1e1b68c-5184-4c3b-b0c0-19f872d5e398_embedded245273836
A fire set by protesters burns at an entrance to the Wan Chai MTR subway station (Kin Cheung/AP)

The protests were triggered in June by an extradition bill that many saw as an example of China’s increasing intrusion and chipping away at Hong Kong residents’ freedoms and rights, many of which are not accorded to people in mainland China.

Hong Kong’s government promised this month to withdraw the bill, which would have allowed some criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial, but protesters have widened their demands to include direct elections for the city’s leaders and police accountability.

There have been increasing clashes between protesters and police, who demonstrators have accused of abuses.

More than 1,300 people have been arrested since the protests started.

The unrest has battered Hong Kong’s economy, which was already reeling from the US-China trade war.

It is also seen as an embarrassment to China’s ruling Communist Party ahead of October 1 National Day celebrations.

ipanews_d1e1b68c-5184-4c3b-b0c0-19f872d5e398_embedded245268402
A protester outside the British Consulate (Vincent Yu/AP)

Earlier on Sunday, hundreds of protesters waved British flags, sang God Save The Queen and chanted “UK save Hong Kong” outside the British Consulate as they stepped up calls for international support for their campaign.

With banners declaring “one country, two systems is dead”, they repeated calls for Hong Kong’s former colonial ruler to ensure the city’s autonomy is upheld under agreements made when it ceded power to China in 1997.

Demonstrators held similar rallies on September 1 at the British consulate and last weekend at the US consulate.

On Saturday, pro-democracy protesters and supporters of the central government in Beijing clashed at a Hong Kong shopping centre and several public places.

Police arrested more than a dozen people and hospital authorities said 25 were injured.

The clashes amid the mid-autumn festival holiday came after several nights of peaceful rallies.

Thousands of people also carried lanterns with pro-democracy messages in public areas and formed illuminated human chains on two of the city’s peaks on Friday night to mark the major Chinese festival.

PA Media

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

Editors Choice

Also in World News