Hong Kong protests

Tear gas, Molo­tovs mark 100 days of demon­stra­tion

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE -

HONG KONG (AFP) — Hong Kong riot po­lice fired tear gas and wa­ter cannon at hard­core pro-democ­racy protesters hurl­ing rocks and petrol bombs on Sun­day, tip­ping the vi­o­lence-plagued city back into chaos af­ter a brief lull in clashes.

Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple de­fied au­thor­i­ties to march through the city in an un­sanc­tioned rally on Sun­day, the lat­est ex­pres­sion of a pop­u­lar re­volt that has raged for the last 99 days.

The rally de­scended into vi­o­lence when small groups of hard­core ac­tivists — known within the move­ment as “braves” — at­tacked the city’s main govern­ment com­plex.

Po­lice fired re­peated vol­leys of tear gas and de­ployed wa­ter cannon trucks af­ter Molo­tov cock­tails and rocks were thrown over se­cu­rity bar­ri­ers sur­round­ing the com­plex, which has be­come a fre­quent flash­point in the on­go­ing protests.

Lo­cal tele­vi­sion net­works broad­cast footage of protesters tear­ing down and burn­ing a huge ban­ner celebratin­g the up­com­ing 70th an­niver­sary of the found­ing of com­mu­nist China — as well as torch­ing a Chi­nese flag.

As evening set in, protesters re­treated, chased by riot of­fi­cers and wa­ter cannon fir­ing blue-dyed wa­ter.

Hong Kong’s sum­mer of rage was sparked by a now-aban­doned plan to al­low ex­tra­di­tions to the au­thor­i­tar­ian main­land, a move that prompted mil­lions to hit the streets.

As Bei­jing and lo­cal city lead­ers dou­bled down, the protests rapidly snow­balled into a much wider anti-govern­ment move­ment.

On Sun­day, some de­mon­stra­tors built bar­ri­cades, set fires and van­dal­ized sub­way sta­tions, but the crowds avoided fur­ther di­rect clashes and largely ran away when ranks of po­lice of­fi­cers got close.

Street brawls

Through­out the evening, mul­ti­ple brawls broke out be­tween po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents, in­clud­ing in the dis­tricts of Fortress Hill and North Point, the lat­ter a bas­tion of pro-Bei­jing sen­ti­ment.

Wit­nesses said a group of Bei­jing sup­port­ers armed with poles and im­pro­vised weapons at­tacked peo­ple in Fortress Hill, but were then set upon by a larger crowd of anti-govern­ment protesters.

Two men were treated by paramedics for bloody wounds and rushed away in am­bu­lances.

“They at­tacked us to­day and yes­ter­day, so we chased and at­tacked them,” a democ­racy pro­tester, who gave his name as John, told AFP.

Pro-democ­racy sup­port­ers also at­tacked at least two men in Cause­way Bay and fur­ther fights took place in North Point, AFP re­porters on scene saw.

The clashes ended a rel­a­tive lull in re­cent days in the in­ten­sity of skir­mishes be­tween po­lice and protesters.

The once-sta­ble in­ter­na­tional hub has been con­vulsed by weeks of huge, some­times vi­o­lent ral­lies call­ing for greater demo­cratic free­doms and po­lice ac­count­abil­ity.

The move­ment is the big­gest challenge to China’s rule since the city was handed back by Britain in 1997 and shows no sign of end­ing.

Un­der a deal signed with Britain ahead of the han­dover, Hong Kong is al­lowed to keep its unique free­doms for 50 years.

But democ­racy ac­tivists ac­cuse Bei­jing of reneg­ing on those prom­ises by tight­en­ing po­lit­i­cal con­trol over the semi-au­ton­o­mous ter­ri­tory and re­fus­ing calls for uni­ver­sal suf­frage.

Ear­lier on Sun­day, protesters ral­lied out­side Britain’s con­sulate in Hong Kong, de­mand­ing Lon­don do more to pro­tect its for­mer colo­nial sub­jects and ramp up pres­sure on Bei­jing over slid­ing free­doms.

Hun­dreds of de­mon­stra­tors sang “God Save the Queen” and “Rule Britannia” out­side the con­sulate, wav­ing the Union Jack as well as Hong Kong’s colo­nial-era flags.

Reuters-Yon­hap

An anti-govern­ment pro­tester throws a Molo­tov cocktail dur­ing a demon­stra­tion near Cen­tral Govern­ment Com­plex in Hong Kong, Sun­day.

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