HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong police fired tear fuel and water cannon on Saturday as pro-democracy protesters threw petrol bombs in the latest in a collection of clashes which have plunged the Chinese-ruled metropolis into its worst political disaster in a long time.
Police officers fire tear fuel at demonstrators throughout a protest in Hong Kong, China August 31, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Police fired spherical after spherical of tear fuel as protesters took cowl behind umbrellas between the native headquarters of China’s People’s Liberation Army and authorities HQ. Protesters additionally threw bricks at police.
The water cannon fired blue-dyed water, historically used elsewhere in the world to make it simpler for police to establish protesters later.
Riot police then marched on foot in direction of the neighboring Admiralty district, adopted by about 20 police automobiles, the place some protesters had thrown fire bombs. Others shone blue and inexperienced lasers at police strains.
The violence got here on the fifth anniversary of a call by China to curtail democratic reforms in the previous British colony, which returned to China in 1997.
The PLA on Thursday rotated its troops in Hong Kong in what it mentioned was a routine operation. Their Hong Kong HQ was the previous base of the British army garrison.
Thousands took to the streets in the afternoon on a largely peaceable, meandering rally in the rain, many becoming a member of a “Christian march” from the Wanchai leisure district and congregating subsequent to the Legislative Council, stormed by activists in an earlier protest.
Other demonstrators, many sporting black and face masks, marched in the Causeway Bay purchasing district.
It was the latest in a string of protests over three months, a few of which have turned violent, concentrating on the airport, the legislature and the Liaison Office, the image of Chinese rule.
“Hong Kong has religious freedom,” Sally Yeung, 27, a Christian, informed Reuters. “We are praying at completely different verify factors and praying for justice to reach in Hong Kong.
“If they prosecute us just because we’re praying, they infringe our non secular freedom.”
Hovering underneath an umbrella outdoors the federal government places of work, Eric, a 22-year-old pupil, mentioned telling folks to not protest was like telling them to not breathe.
“I feel it’s my duty to fight for democracy,” he mentioned. “Maybe we win, maybe we lose. But we fight.”
Police erected water-filled plastic limitations round key authorities buildings and two water cannon, used briefly for the primary time final weekend, have been on the prepared close to the Liaison Office, which was daubed with graffiti in an earlier protest.
The MTR subway suspended some providers and shut station exits due to seemingly “public activities”.
“BE LIKE WATER”
Police arrested a lot of outstanding pro-democracy activists and three lawmakers on Friday, in search of to rein in a motion which began with anger over deliberate laws permitting extraditions to mainland China. It quickly broadened into requires democracy amid fears China is squeezing Hong Kong’s freedoms.
But the latest protests don’t have any leaders. The slogan is “be like water”, that means be versatile. Marchers on Saturday have been marching right here and there, wherever streets took them, speaking with completely different hand indicators and chanting “stand with Hong Kong” and “fight for freedom”.
China denies the cost of meddling in Hong Kong, which it says is an inside affair. It has denounced the protests and warned of the harm to the financial system.
China is keen to quell the unrest earlier than the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1 however protesters vandalized an extended purple banner celebrating the occasion to cheers from the gang.
Beijing has additionally accused international powers, significantly the United States and Britain, of fomenting the demonstrations and warned towards international interference.
Hong Kong returned to China underneath a “one country, two systems” components that permits it to maintain freedoms not loved on the mainland, like the liberty to protest and an unbiased authorized system.
There have been frequent clashes between protesters and police, who’ve usually fired tear fuel and rubber bullets to disperse crowds, amid accusations of extreme pressure.
“A lot of people from the outside think it is the police who escalate (the violence) first,” a police officer informed a media briefing. “This is not true.”
An off-duty policeman was attacked late on Friday evening by three unidentified males with a knife in the Kwai Chung container port space, struggling wounds to his limbs and again, police mentioned. The information was a top-trending subject on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.
With protesters and authorities locked in an deadlock and Hong Kong dealing with its first recession in a decade, hypothesis has grown that the town authorities might impose emergency legal guidelines, giving it additional powers over detentions, censorship and curfews.
Lawmaker Fernando Cheung mentioned the arrests of the three legislators have been in all probability aimed toward inflicting extra anger and chaos to justify the usage of emergency legal guidelines.
“To incite more people to come out today is totally ridiculous,” he informed Reuters.
Additional reporting by Marius Zaharia, jesse Pang, Joe Brock, Farah Master, Clare Jim and Twinnie Siu; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Jacqueline Wong