- Facebook/Lostdutch, Reuters
This past weekend (Aug 31-Sept 1) was the 13th weekend Hong Kong’s anti-extradition bill protesters took to the streets to voice their demands.
What started out as a largely peaceful demonstration in July has now evolved into a weekly show of violence and bloodshed, especially on the city’s extensive MTR railway network.
Over the weekend, Hong Kong’s most radical protesters again showed they were unwilling to step back from their demands, and have evolved their tactics to deal with police.
Hong Kong police, too, continued their unwavering no-nonsense stance in their treatment of protesters, despite facing flak over an alleged pellet shooting incident which left a woman seriously injured in one eye.
Nonetheless, the chaos has not seemed to deter Hong Kong citizens from stepping out to form and join rallies and demonstrations. South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that as many as 10,000 secondary school students are skipping the first day of the school year on Monday (Sept 2) for a rally in the Central district.
Students protest on the first school day. That’s their determination. (Picture from the internet) pic.twitter.com/vlJIKmxeDi
— Nathan Law 羅冠聰 (@nathanlawkc) September 2, 2019
Here’s a quick run down of all the major events that happened on yet another weekend of unrest and disruption in the fragrant harbour.
Ban on rallies fails to keep protesters off roads
Although there was an earlier ban on rallies, protesters began marching from Southorn Playground to the police headquarters in Wan Chai on Saturday afternoon, as crowds showed up in Causeway Bay and Chater Garden in Central.
Protesters also set up barricades in Causeway Bay to disrupt traffic. By 3.30pm, SCMP estimated that tens of thousands of protesters were now on the streets.
According to SCMP, police warned people at an illegal march on a main thoroughfare several times that they were taking part in an unlawful assembly.
Pepper spray and tear gas is used at the Legislative Council, after police say protesters threw objects, such as bricks, and pointed laser beams at officers. The crowd later smashes its way into the compound, set fire to barricades and throw petrol bombs at police.
Police then fired blue dye at protesters so they can be easily identified later.
Protesters vandalise, bash MTR stations
MTR Corporation said that it had filed a police report, after protesters vandalised part of a station and threw projectiles onto train tracks, causing services to be suspended.
As night drew near, protesters on the move continued to vandalise MTR stations by smashing a CCTV camera and spray painting ticket machines black. SCMP reported that some also forced the gates open so other protesters could board the trains without paying a fare.
In total, around 44 stations are said to have been damaged over the weekend, with at least 32 bashed on Saturday alone.
Protesters start fires on roads
- Insert the image source
On Hennessey Road, protesters throw petrol bombs into a fire, causing explosions. An Oriental Daily reporter described the scene as “very dangerous” for protesters who were slow to move away from the blaze.
Protesters later start another fire outside the Sogo department store.
Undercover cops fire live rounds
Police told SCMP that there were undercover police personnel dressed as protesters after men clad in black were spotted dragging protesters towards the police. Upon discovery of the undercover cops, a horde of protesters chase and attack the officers, who then fire a live round into the sky, the Post reported.
Dramatic scenes near Victoria Park as a live round was fired by police skywards as a warning shot to protesters. #hongkongprotests
Video: SCMP/Kao Shan Shan pic.twitter.com/c2RDpUgPYO
— SCMP Hong Kong (@SCMPHongKong) August 31, 2019
This was the second time live rounds had been fired in 13 weeks.
Fight on MTR prompts police to storm train, beat protesters with batons
A large group of protesters at Prince Edward station were caught on video throwing objects and arguing with some elderly men in the MTR. It is unclear what the argument was about but the heated exchange resulted in a fire extinguisher going off in the train after an object was thrown inside.
Protesters and one of the elderly men can be seen waving hammers in a video posted by Facebook user Lostdutch.
Soon after, police raptors from the Special Tactical Squad entered the station and chased protesters while beating them with batons. A video that has gone viral on social media shows the officers chasing a group of four young men and women who cowered and cried as police beat them in a stationary train. Some people can be seen bleeding from the head.
Police later confirmed 63 arrests were made at Prince Edward and Mong Kok stations, including a 13-year-old boy who was found carrying two petrol bombs and two lighters. According to SCMP, police said they entered the station at the train operator’s request after protestors damaged the MTR control room.
Needless to say, several train lines were suspended due to the chaos. Three of the stations also remained closed the next day, due to the large-scale damage caused.
The Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) also reported that when asked how the raptors distinguished protesters from ordinary commuters, senior superintendent Yolanda Yu said: “We will use our professional ability to identify whether they are civilians or protesters.”
According to HKFP, pro-democracy legislators have labelled the police’s decision to storm the station as “licensed terror attacks” and accused them of “beating up ordinary citizens indiscriminately”.
Travellers forced to walk to airport
On Sunday, a planned sit-in at the airport escalated after protesters vandalised parts of the airport and a nearby MTR station in Tung Chung, HKFP reported.
By around 1:30pm, MTR was forced to suspend the Airport Express line due to the unrest, after trespassers were found on the tracks.
At wits end, many travellers were forced to hike with luggage in tow on the highways and from as far as Tung Chung, which is around 5km away, SCMP reported. Many flights were delayed as a result of the chaos.
Protesters retreat from airport to Tung Chung
Again, protesters set up fire barricades to stop police from advancing as they retreated from the Hong Kong International Airport to Tung Chung.
During the chaos, radical protesters burnt a Chinese flag and smashed windows at the MTR station.
With the Tung Chung line suspended, many protesters, who were stranded on Lantau island where the airport is located, decided to walk around 10km in the heavy rain after a typhoon warning was raised.
According to SCMP, more than 100 residents in the Tin Shui Wai district engaged in a stand-off with police, after the authority body-searched commuters at the MTR station.
MTR Corporation said in an update on Monday morning that most lines had resumed, with only the Kwun Tong line experiencing delays for slightly over two hours due to “passengers requesting assistance, train door obstruction, platform screen door operations”.
Xinhua warns ‘end is coming’ for people antagonising China
Meanwhile, Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua published a commentary that warned “the end is coming for those attempting to disrupt Hong Kong and antagonise China”.
Published on Sunday evening, the commentary said that “rioters” had “turned a blind eye to people’s freedom by violently obstructing them from going to school and work”.
“They tried to stir up unrest in Hong Kong and compromise the ‘one country, two systems’ principle, before spreading the ‘colour revolution’ into the Chinese mainland.
“However, their attempt to ‘kidnap Hong Kong’ and press the central authorities is just a delusion. No concession should be expected concerning such principle issues,” it said.
The article continued by warning against crossing “three bottom lines”. These were, according to the writer, “no one should harm the national sovereignty and security; no one should challenge the power of the central authorities and the authority of the Basic Law of the HKSAR; no one should use Hong Kong to infiltrate and undermine the mainland”.