Hong Kong chaos, teenage activist STABBED
Tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters barricaded multiple streets in Hongkong and clashed with police officers after two weeks of relative calm in the city.
Tear gas was fired into the crowds as scores of police officers marched through the streets, after the march was declared illegal due to concerns over public safety.
Protesters responded by hurling petrol bombs at the Tsum Sha Tsui police station.
Police officers later said they seized more than 40 petrol bombs from activists.
They also detonated an explosive device, which was found rigged among broken bricks in the middle of a street.
The clashes came a day after a teenage activist was stabbed and wounded while distributing leaflets near a wall with pro-democracy messages.
Police arrested a 22-year-old man in connection with the knife attack.
Hong Kong has been paralysed for months by the protests, which began over concerns that China was tightening control over the city.
“The government pretends we just want to destroy the city,” said Ray, a 24-year-old activist who did not provide his full name. We’ll be out for as long as it takes to let the world know it is them who are destroying it.”
Hong Kong is governed under a “one country, two systems” formula, which permits the city freedoms not available on the mainland such as an independent judiciary.
Demonstrators are angry with Carrie Lam, the city’s leader, for what they see as her pro-Beijing stance.
Cheung, 33-year-old protester, said Ms Lam was “not listening to us at all.”
She added: “This may work in China but not in Hong Kong.”
After a fortnight of relative calm, protests erupted again in the region on Saturday.
Masked protesters barricaded multiple streets, by tearing stones from the pavement and scattering them on the road. Crowds also used plastic safety barriers and metal railings to form the makeshift barricades.
They also trashed hundreds of shops during the march, including a discount grocery chain, which they said were under pro-Beijing ownership. They also tried to set fire to metro stations and branches of Chinese banks, setting off sprinklers in two.
Many demonstrators covered their faces in defiance of a new law barring them from wearing masks. They also sang the protest movement’s anthem and held up placards which depicted China‘s flag as a Nazi swastika.
The Civil Human Rights Front, which organized the march despite not obtaining police approval, said around 350,000 protesters took part.
“You can see Hong Kongers won’t easily give up their right to demonstrate. Today’s turnout is more than I expected,” said Daniel Yeung, one of the activists taking part.
“You can see that as long as people keep coming out in large numbers we are safe and can keep fighting,” he added.
Police deployed several water cannon trucks to spray jets of blue-dye at protesters, which they use to identify demonstrators. Many people hit by the liquid also developed coughs, suggesting an irritant may be mixed with the water.
One water cannon sprayed a mosque in Kolwoon, an area in the city’s north, covering the building in blue liquid.
Residents jeered at riot police marching in the streets. Officers, in turn, told the people they were part of an illegal assembly.
As night fell the crowds set rubbish on fire in the middle of several streets and officers responded by firing yet more tear gas.
The crowds have five core demands: universal suffrage, an independent inquiry into police action against protesters, amnesty for those charged, an end to describing protesters as rioters, and the formal withdrawal of a controversial bill allowing the extradition of prisoners to mainland China.
The bill triggered the protests earlier this summer. Ms. Lam has declared the legislation abandoned but it is yet to be formally withdrawn.
She has rejected the other demands and on Sunday she said a police complaint inquiry will be completed before the end of the year.
Two people have been shot and wounded by police and thousands have been injured since the protests escalated in June.