Hong Kong Govt: Violence Is Harmful, Won’t Solve Divisions

Elias Hubbard
September 16, 2019

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 over two kilometres to the Central business district. Some waved US and British flags, while others carried posters reiterating their calls for democratic reforms.

The demonstrations were the latest in over three months of sometimes violent protests, with protesters angered by what they see as creeping interference by Beijing in Hong Kong's affairs despite promises by Beijing to grant the city wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms denied in mainland China.

"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", said protester Winnie Leung, 50.

Sunday's march disrupted traffic and many shops closed their doors.

A heavy police presence could be seen in and around subway stations.

The authorities moved quickly to douse the fires and police fired volleys of tear gas to disperse them, including in the bustling shopping and tourist district of Causeway Bay.

Protesters retreated, but regrouped in cat-and-mouse battles that lasted a few hours before calm returned.

The brawl lasted for several minutes before riot police rushed in and separated the two groups, but fist-fights continued outside on the street. Rail operator MTR Corp has become a prime target of vandalism, with activists angry that it closes stations during protests and prevents demonstrators from gathering.

Demonstrators marched through central Hong Kong without police permission on Sunday.

As in previous protests, the Hong Kong government issued harsh criticisms toward protesters for participating in an unlawful assembly and noted that some protesters had burnt a Chinese national flag in the district of Wanchai, an act that it said "challenge [d] national authority".

A journalist from local tabloid Apple Daily said she suffered a minor hand injury after a man struck her hand while trying to snatch her phone away from her, RTHK reported.

The consulate demonstration lacked the violence that has marked anti-government protests in recent months - but that changed later in the day.

Other than the withdrawal of the extradition bill, protesters say they have four other demands that must be met, including an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality against protesters.

Almost 1,400 people have been arrested since the protests started in June, but police gave no update on the number arrested over the weekend.

Pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong have arrived in the United States to urge Congress and President Donald Trump to recognise that a potential military crackdown on the city will reverberate across the global economy.

Earlier Sunday, hundreds of protesters waved British flags, sang "God Save the Queen" and chanted "U.K. save Hong Kong" outside the British Consulate as they stepped up calls for global support for their campaign.

"Stand for freedom, stand with Hong Kong".

Demonstrators held similar rallies September 1 at the British Consulate and last weekend at the U.S. Consulate.

The protests have weighed on the city's economy as it faces its first recession in a decade, with tourist arrivals plunging 40 per cent in August amid some disruptions at the city's worldwide airport. Clashes erupted that night, with police storming a subway vehicle and hitting passengers with batons and pepper spray.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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