Hong Kong’s protesters expressed remorse after a peaceful sit-in at the city’s airport turned violent on Tuesday night, prompting a backlash from authorities and criticism from many citizens.
“We’re deeply sorry about what happened yesterday,” read a banner held up by a group of a few dozen demonstrators in the airport arrivals hall on Wednesday.
“We were desperate and we made imperfect decisions. Please accept our apologies,” the banner said, Reuters reports.
In chaotic scenes that would once have been unthinkable for Hong Kong, a peaceful sit-in at the airport turned violent late on Tuesday as protesters confronted and held a man they believed was an undercover Chinese agent.
“We promise to reflect and to improve,” protesters said in one message distributed on social media app Telegram.
“Sorry we were too reckless … we are only afraid of losing your support to the whole movement due to our mistake, and that you give up on fighting.”
China said on Wednesday Hong Kong’s protest movement had reached “near terrorism”.
Ten weeks of increasingly violent confrontation between police and protesters have plunged Hong Kong into its worst crisis since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
There has been little sign of a letup in the protests, which began in opposition to a now-suspended bill that would have allowed the extradition of suspects for trial in mainland China, but have swelled into wider calls for democracy, Reuters noted.
On Wednesday night, hundreds attended a demonstration in the residential area of Sham Shui Po, where police arrived and quickly used tear gas after protesters pointed lasers at the police station.
In other news, Hong Kong’s airport operator said normal flight operations will resume on Thursday after the mass sit-in by protesters forced the cancellation of nearly 1,000 flights this week.
There will be heightened security at the airport.
The Airport Authority said late on Wednesday that any application for protests to be held in the terminal must be made in advance with a “Letter of No Objection” to be obtained from police.
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