Forty-four people have been arrested following various incidents, at multiple locations, involving anti-government protesters on Sunday night, according to Hong Kong authorities.
They will face charges that include unlawful assembly and possession of offensive weapons.
In a statement, police strongly condemned “the radical protestors who disregarded law and order”, and reiterated that “resolute enforcement actions will be taken against all illegal and violent acts.”
“Police always respect the public’s freedom to express views and opinions, as well as the right to assembly. However, the violence of protestors is escalating rapidly in their recent illegal acts and the situation is getting out of control,” the statement said.
Sunday’s clashes, the latest of their kind seen in the past two months, came after hundreds of thousands of people first took to the streets in Tseung Kwan O in the afternoon to request the government to respond to the demands on the issues surrounding the extradition bill.
The demonstrators called on citizens to join strike actions, and denounced what they termed as biased and false reporting by certain pro-establishment media outlets.
“During the event, the whole of Po Fung Road and part of the carriageway of Po Lam Road North were occupied by the participants. They also removed roadside fences on Mau Yip Road and set road blocks, causing serious traffic obstruction,” the police said in their statement.
In the meantime, another large batch of protesters held a rally at Belcher Bay Park in Kennedy Town in Western District later that afternoon to voice the same demands, including the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill.
After that event, several activists started moving toward Causeway Bay to conduct an unauthorized assembly.
As the crowds were heading in eastward direction through Des Voeux Road West, they occupied the carriageways and set up road blocks before proceeding along Queen’s Road West.
The protesters later occupied the carriageways of Hennessy Road near Causeway Bay and blocked the roads by using fences, causing serious traffic obstruction,” a government statement said.
“After that, some protestors proceeded to block Gloucester Road and both traffic lanes of Cross-Harbour Tunnel nearby, leading to complete closure of both ways of the tunnel tubes and traffic obstruction,” according to the statement.
Police urged the people, through on-site calls as well as through social media messages and press releases, who gathered unlawfully to leave the scene as soon as possible.
After several warnings failed to move the protesters, officers discharged tear gas at the junction of Hennessy Road and Percival Street and “used appropriate force” to disperse the protesters, the government said.
“Protestors became increasingly violent during the dispersal operations, with some of them “[setting] fire to a trolley of rubbish bins, wooden planks and miscellaneous objects, and pushed it towards police cordon line on Percival Street,” the statement said.
While officers were busying dealing with the protests on Hong Kong Island, some activists moved to Kowloon and the New Territories.
A number of police stations, including those in Kwun Tong, Wong Tai Sin and Tseung Kwan O, were besieged and came under threat from protestors, forcing the police to temporarily suspend their reporting room services, authorities said.
According to the claims, protestors hurled bricks and hard objects into the stations and also spray-painted insulting graffiti messages directed at the police on the outer walls of the buildings.
Condemning the events, the government said the deteriorating situation “once again underlines that violent and illegal protests are spreading”, which is “pushing Hong Kong to the verge of a very dangerous situation”.
All members of the public should “say no to violence in order to restore order in society as soon as possible,” it said.
In related news, there is talk that Beijing’s Liaison Office has scheduled a meeting with Hong Kong delegates of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s top political advisory body, and local deputies of the National People’s Congress (NPC) this week.
The office is believed to have insisted on the meeting, which could take place in Shenzhen on Wednesday, as the escalating Hong Kong protests are being viewed by Beijing as a direct challenge to its authority.
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