Riot po­lice breaks up Hong Kong rally

Speak­ers at a rally close to the city’s har­bourfront warned that the crack­down in Xin­jiang could one day be repli­cated in HK

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Hong Kong, China - Hong Kong riot po­lice broke up a sol­i­dar­ity rally for China’s Uighurs on Sun­day - with one of­fi­cer draw­ing a pis­tol - as the city’s pro-democ­racy move­ment likened their plight to that of the op­pressed Mus­lim mi­nor­ity.

The ini­tially peace­ful rally de­scended into chaos when a small group of pro­test­ers re­moved a Chi­nese flag from a nearby gov­ern­ment build­ing and tried to burn it, an AFP re­porter on the scene said.

Or­gan­is­ers stopped the flag be­ing burned but riot po­lice then swooped in with pep­per spray, spark­ing anger from the crowd who threw wa­ter bot­tles.

One of­fi­cer drew his side-arm and pointed it at the crowd but did not fire. Mul­ti­ple pro­test­ers were seen be­ing de­tained.

The rally in sup­port of Uighurs is likely to anger Bei­jing.

China has faced in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion for round­ing up an es­ti­mated one mil­lion Uighurs and other mostly Mus­lim eth­nic mi­nori­ties in in­tern­ment camps in the north­west­ern re­gion of Xin­jiang.

The emer­gence of a huge sur­veil­lance and prison sys­tem that now blan­kets much of Xin­jiang has been watched closely in Hong Kong which has been con­vulsed by six months of huge and some­times vi­o­lent protests against Bei­jing’s rule.

Pro-Uighur chants and flags have be­come com­mon­place in Hong Kong’s marches but Sun­day’s rally was the first to be specif­i­cally ded­i­cated to Uighurs.

Around 1,000 peo­ple gath­ered in a square close to the city’s har­bourfront lis­ten­ing to speeches warn­ing that the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party’s crack­down in Xin­jiang could one day be repli­cated in Hong Kong.

“We shall not for­get those who share a com­mon goal with us, our strug­gle for free­dom and democ­racy and the rage against the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party,” one speaker shouted through a loud­speaker to cheers from the crowd.

Many of those at­tend­ing were wav­ing the flag of ‘East Turkestan’, the term many Uighur sep­a­ratists use for Xin­jiang, which has a white cres­cent moon on a blue back­ground.

Oth­ers wore blue face masks dis­play­ing the East Turkestan flag. Flags for Ti­bet - an­other rest­less re­gion of China that has long been un­der a se­cu­rity lock down - were also flown as well as Tai­wan flags.

Pro­test­ers at­tend a rally to show sup­port for the Uighur mi­nor­ity in China, as the city's pro-democ­racy move­ment likened their plight to that of the op­pressed Mus­lim mi­nor­ity, in Hong Kong on Sun­day

China runs Hong Kong on a ‘one coun­try, two sys­tems’ model which al­lows the fi­nan­cial hub key free­doms that are de­nied peo­ple on the au­thor­i­tar­ian main­land.

Fears for the fu­ture

Mus­lim mi­nori­ties af­ter a se­ries of deadly at­tacks by mil­i­tants.

It bris­tles at any crit­i­cism of its poli­cies in Xin­jiang and warns against for­eign crit­i­cism.

Bei­jing ini­tially de­nied the ex­is­tence of the Xin­jiang camps, but now says they are ‘vo­ca­tional train­ing cen­tres’ nec­es­sary to com­bat ter­ror­ism.

Few Mus­lim coun­tries have openly crit­i­cised China given its huge eco­nomic clout.

But in­creas­ingly high pro­file fig­ures are speak­ing out.

Arse­nal mid­fielder Me­sut Ozil, a Ger­man of Turk­ish ori­gin, crit­i­cised China’s ac­tions last week and the Mus­lim com­mu­nity’s si­lence but has since come un­der a bar­rage of at­tacks from Bei­jing.



A po­lice of­fi­cer points a pis­tol dur­ing a rally in Hong Kong on Sun­day

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