New Week, New Protests in Hong Kong
02 September 2019, 14:49
Hong Kong high school students gathered in a park on what was the first day the new school year Monday in a strike to show their continued support for the pro-democracy movement, VOA news reports.
Earlier, demonstrators disrupted the Monday morning commute by blocking train doors.
Sunday protesters seeking democratic rights blocked access to the international airport, setting fire to barricades on the road, blocking entrance to the airport bus terminal and leading transit officials to suspend train service to the facility.
The protests prompted authorities to cancel some flights, which forced travelers to trek on foot for hours toward the city center.
Many of Sunday’s protesters wanted to exact revenge after riot police on Saturday beat rail customers with batons and soaked them with pepper spray while carrying out arrests. Most of those attacked were not arrested.
The young people, frustrated over a bill that could more deeply involve mainland China in the city’s legal affairs, have targeted the airport as a vulnerable nerve center where protests draw heavy media coverage.
In addition, they vented their anger at the Hong Kong urban transport company, the MTR Corp., by trashing a station Sunday, hours after protesters caused severe damage at 32 other stations.
The company has allowed police to chase, attack and arrest people inside of stations, which has enraged protesters and residents.
As it did last month, the government tried to neutralize protesters, and discourage new ones from arriving by shutting down the high speed rail service that links the airport with major commercial centers in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. That sent protesters on a long walk before a large caravan of drivers arrived to pick them up.
The protest Sunday followed a night-long rampage, when demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails, torched trash and hurled bricks. Police deployed water cannons, tear gas and at one point, live gun fire, to contain the throngs. At least 40 people were arrested Saturday night.
Saturday marked the fifth anniversary of Beijing’s denial of fully democratic elections in the city.
The government released a statement Saturday that read in part: “Rashly embarking on political reform again will further polarize society, which is an irresponsible act. Any discussions on constitutional development have to be premised on the legal basis, and be conducted under a peaceful atmosphere with mutual trust in a pragmatic manner.”