Hong Kong Protests Grow Violent 07/22 06:17
Clashes involving Hong Kong's protest movement escalated violently late
Sunday as police launched tear gas at protesters who didn't disband after a
massive march and subway riders were attacked by masked assailants who appeared
to target the pro-democracy demonstrators.
HONG KONG (AP) -- Clashes involving Hong Kong's protest movement escalated
violently late Sunday as police launched tear gas at protesters who didn't
disband after a massive march and subway riders were attacked by masked
assailants who appeared to target the pro-democracy demonstrators.
The firing of tear gas was the latest confrontation between police and
protesters who have taken to the streets for almost two months to fight a
proposed extradition bill and call for electoral reforms in the Chinese
The march had been peaceful when it reached its police-designated end point
in Hong Kong's Wan Chai district in the late afternoon, but thousands continued
onward, at various points occupying key government and business districts. They
then headed for the Liaison Office, which represents China's Communist
Party-led central government within the city.
Protesters threw eggs at the building and spray-painted its surrounding
surveillance cameras. China's national emblem, which adorns the front of the
Liaison Office, was splattered with black ink. The Liaison Office said in
comments published on Chinese state media that the acts "openly challenged the
authority of the central government and touched the bottom line of the 'one
country, two systems' principle."
Later, police threw tear gas canisters at protesters to try to disperse
them. Protesters scattered, some heading back in the direction of a key
business and retail district. Police remained in place, protecting themselves
with shields. Police said on their official social media accounts that
protesters threw bricks and petrol bombs at them and attacked the Central
Hong Kong media released video showing masked assailants attacking commuters
in a subway station. Among those attacked were protesters clad in their
trademark black clothing and yellow hard hats.
The attackers, meanwhile, were dressed in white with black masks pulled over
their heads. On Saturday, demonstrators wore white at a counter-rally in
support of police.
Footage from Apple Daily showed the attackers using umbrellas to beat people
in the station and inside a subway car. Subway passengers filmed by Stand News
and iCABLE angrily accused police officers of not intervening in the attack.
Stand News reporter Gwyneth Ho said on Facebook that she suffered minor
injuries to her hands and shoulder, and was dizzy from a head injury. The South
China Morning Post reported several people were bleeding following the attacks,
and that seven people were sent to the hospital.
The Hong Kong government said in a statement shortly after midnight that
commuters were attacked at a subway station in the city's Yuen Long
neighborhood, leading to "confrontations and injuries."
The statement also said some "radical protesters initiated a series of
violent acts ... despite repeated warnings" by police. They said the acts
included hurling petrol bombs, setting fires and throwing bricks.
"This is absolutely unacceptable to Hong Kong as a society that observes the
rule of law," the statement said, referring to the acts of the subway attackers
as well as the protesters.
Organizers said 430,000 people participated in Sunday's march, while police
said there were 138,000 during the procession's "peak period."
Large protests began early last month in opposition to a contentious
extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to stand trial in
mainland China, where critics say their rights would be compromised.
Hong Kong's leader, Carrie Lam, has declared the extradition bill dead, but
protesters are dissatisfied with her refusal to formally withdraw the
legislation. Some are also calling for her to resign amid growing concerns
about the steady erosion of civil rights in the city.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, was handed back to China in 1997 and was
promised certain democratic freedoms under the framework of "one country, two
systems." Fueled by anger at Lam and an enduring distrust of the Communist
Party-ruled central government in Beijing, the current demonstrations have
ballooned into calls for electoral reform and an investigation into alleged
police brutality at the protests.
Walking in sweltering heat, protesters dressed in black kicked off Sunday's
march at a public park, carrying a large banner that read "Independent Inquiry
for Rule of Law."
"Free Hong Kong! Democracy now!" the protesters chanted, forming a dense
procession through Wan Chai as they were joined by others who had been waiting
in side streets.
"The government has never responded to our demands," said Karen Yu, a
52-year-old Hong Kong resident who has attended four protests since they
started. "No matter how much the government can do, at least it should come out
and respond to us directly."
Protesters repeated the five points of their "manifesto," which was first
introduced when a small group of them stormed the legislature earlier this
month. Their main demands include universal suffrage --- direct voting rights
for all Hong Kong residents --- as well as dropping charges against
anti-extradition protesters, withdrawing the characterization of a clash
between police and protesters as a "riot" and dissolving the Legislative
Protesters read the demands aloud in both English and Cantonese in videos
"We did not want to embark on this path of resisting tyranny with our bare
bodies," they said, "but for too long, our government has lied and deceived,
and refused to respond to the demands of the people."
While the demonstrations have been largely peaceful, some confrontations
between police and protesters have turned violent. In Sha Tin district the
previous Sunday, they beat each other with umbrellas and bats inside a luxury
shopping center. Demonstrators broke into the Legislative Council building on
July 1 by moving past barricades and shattering windows.
On Friday, Hong Kong police discovered a stash of a powerful homemade
explosive in a commercial building and arrested a man. Materials voicing
opposition to the extradition bill were found at the site, local media said,
but a police spokesman said no concrete link had been established and the
investigation was continuing.
The People's Daily, the Communist Party's official newspaper, condemned
"radical extremists" who attacked the legislature and "trampled" on Hong Kong's
rule of law in a front-page column Sunday. The paper said the counter-rally
Saturday intended to show support for the police reflected "mainstream public
opinion" in Hong Kong.