Left Menu
Development News Edition

Twin rallies after tear gas clashes in Hong Kong tourist district

PTI | Hong Kong | Updated: 04-08-2019 10:25 IST | Created: 04-08-2019 10:22 IST
Twin rallies after tear gas clashes in Hong Kong tourist district

Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong are set to defy Chinese authorities with another two major rallies later Sunday, a day after police fired tear gas to disperse them in one of the city's most renowned tourist districts. Tsim Sha Tsui, a harbourside district known for its luxury malls and hotels, was filled with acrid plumes of tear gas on Saturday night as small groups of hardcore protesters battled police in streets usually brimming with tourists and shoppers.

Semi-autonomous Hong Kong has seen two months of protests and clashes triggered by opposition to a planned extradition law that quickly evolved into a wider movement for democratic reforms. Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing this week signalled a hardening stance. Dozens of protesters were charged with rioting and the Chinese military said it was ready to quell the "intolerable" unrest if requested.

But the largely leaderless protest movement remains unbowed. Two simultaneous marches are planned for Sunday afternoon as well as a city-wide strike on Monday, making further clashes all but inevitable.

One of Sunday's marches will try to end in a park near the Liaison Office, the department that represents China's central government in the semi-autonomous hub. Two weeks ago the office was pelted with eggs and paint in a move that infuriated Beijing and sparked the rapidly escalating warnings from the mainland. The last fortnight has seen a surge in violence on both sides with police repeatedly firing rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse increasingly hostile projectile-throwing crowds. A mob of pro-government thugs also attacked demonstrators, putting 45 people in hospital, with many accusing the police of being too slow to respond.

This weekend has seen no let up in the violence. In Tsim Sha Tsui masked demonstrators smashed the windows of cars in a police parking lot and daubed nearby walls with graffiti. One team of protesters created a large slingshot -- held up by two members -- to launch bricks at the building. Others put up barricades on busy shopping thoroughfares and temporarily blockaded a cross-harbour tunnel.

Police said they arrested "over 20 people", bringing the total number of arrests to more than 200 since the protest movement exploded on 9 June. Anger towards the police is at record levels with officers increasingly derided in chants as Beijing's enforcers -- although police deny using excessive force and say they are facing increasingly hardcore protesters.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, a large crowd of residents came out in support of the protesters after police made some arrests in the working class district of Wong Tai Sin, which is famous for its Taoist temple. Police used tear gas once more to disperse the crowds, many of whom were not wearing gas masks or goggles, unlike the more seasoned protesters.

However earlier in the day tens of thousands of people filled a park to rally in support of the police, in a vivid illustration of the political polarisation coursing through Hong Kong. The rally was broadcast on Chinese state media and many participants waved Chinese flags.

Under the terms of the 1997 handover deal with Britain, Hong Kong has rights and liberties unseen on the Chinese mainland, including an independent judiciary and freedom of speech. But many say those rights are being curtailed, citing the disappearance into mainland custody of dissident booksellers, the disqualification of prominent politicians and the jailing of pro-democracy protest leaders.

Public anger has been compounded by rising inequality and the perception that the city's distinct language and culture are being threatened by ever-closer integration with the Chinese mainland. Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam has made few concessions beyond agreeing to suspend the extradition bill, and has shied away from public appearances. Protesters are demanding her resignation, an independent inquiry into police tactics, an amnesty for those arrested, a permanent withdrawal of the bill, and the right to elect their leaders.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

South Africa's COVID-19 response: Surprising outcomes or just poor data management?

South Africa has been committed to improving its health information system and shows that a robust digital has considerable scope to improve healthcare for the entire population. But the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that significant ga...

Post-COVID-19 Nigeria needs a robust Health Management Information System to handle high disease burden

Nigeria is among a few countries that conceptualised a health management information system HMIS in the early 90s but implementation has been a challenge till date. Besides COVID-19, the country has a huge burden of communicable and non-com...

Morocco COVID-19 response: A fragile health system and the deteriorating situation

Learning from its European neighbors, Morocco imposed drastic measures from the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak to try to contain its spread. The strategy worked for a few months but the cases have surged after mid-June. In this sit...

COVID-19: Argentina’s health system inefficiencies exaggerate flaws of health information system

You can recover from a drop in the GDP, but you cant recover from death, was the straightforward mindset of Argentinas President Alberto Fernndez and defined the countrys response to COVID-19. The South American nation imposed a strict...

Videos

Latest News

WTO backs EU tariffs on $4 bln U.S. goods over Boeing subsidies -sources

The World Trade Organization has authorized the European Union to impose tariffs on U.S. goods worth 4 billion to retaliate against subsidies for American planemaker Boeing Co, people familiar with the matter said. The delayed award provide...

Over 90 Haitian migrants abandoned in Colombian waters

More than 90 Haitian migrants were abandoned at sea by human traffickers as they tried to reach Panama from Colombia as part of their journey to the United States, Colombias navy said on Tuesday. The Darien Gap, a stretch of jungle bridging...

UN council urges speedy halt to Nagorno-Karabakh fighting

The UN Security Council called on Armenia and Azerbaijan Tuesday to immediately halt fighting over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and urgently resume talks without preconditions. The UNs most powerful body strongly condemned t...

FOREX-Dollar wobbles as markets await U.S. presidential debate

The dollar edged down in Asian trade on Wednesday as investors counted down to the first U.S. presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden. The 90-minute presidential debate at 0100 GMT will be clos...

Give Feedback