Police fire tear gas amid fresh violent protests over weekend

September 09, 2019 09:37
Protestors leave after lighting fire on a road during a rally in Hong Kong on Sunday. The unrest triggered by the extradition bill shows no signs of ending despite the withdrawal of the bill by the government. Photo: Reuters

Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters in Causeway Bay on Sunday, one of many violent incidents that took place over the weekend as the unrest in Hong Kong escalated.

Police moved on protesters as they gathered in the shopping district after indulging in vandalism in the Central business district where they targeted the MTR station.

Activists set barricades, smashed windows, started street fires and vandalized the Central train station.

Central district, home to banks and top-brand shopping arcades, was awash in graffiti, broken glass and bricks torn up from pathways, Reuters reported.

Protesters set fires from cardboard boxes, building barricades with metal fencing.

Elsewhere, there were some incidents in Kowloon on Sunday night, including in Prince Edward, close to Mong Kok.

The vandalism started in the evening. Police have responded to violence over 14 weeks with water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas.

Several arrests were made.

Earlier in the day, thousands of protesters marched to the US consulate and called on Washington  to support the democracy fight in Hong Kong.

“Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,” they shouted before handing over petitions at the consulate. “Resist Beijing, liberate Hong Kong.”

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Saturday urged China to exercise restraint in Hong Kong.

Esper made his call in Paris as police in Hong Kong prevented protesters from blocking access to the airport but fired tear gas for a second night running in the densely populated district of Mong Kok.

China has denounced the Hong Kong protests, accusing the United States and Britain of fomenting the unrest.

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam announced last week that she was formally scrapping a controversial extradition bill that had triggered the current crisis.

Many protesters, however, said the move was too little, too late.

The bill would have allowed the extradition of people to mainland China to stand trial in courts there, threatening to undermine the Hong Kong judiciary.

While the bill has been withdrawn, the protests have not ended as demonstrators want Lam to accept four other demands, which include an independent inquiry into police conduct and working toward genuine universal suffrage.

US legislation addressing China’s actions in Hong Kong will be among the top priorities pushed by Senate Democrats when Congress returns to work after a recess next week, their leader, Senator Chuck Schumer, said on Thursday.

Schumer urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring up a bipartisan bill that would require an annual justification of the special treatment afforded by Washington to Hong Kong, including special trade and business privileges, under the US Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, Reuters reported.

The legislation, called the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, would also mandate that officials in China and Hong Kong who have undermined the city’s autonomy are vulnerable to sanctions.

Hong Kong protesters, in their petition handed to the US Consulate on Sunday, urged that it be passed in full.

In other news, Joshua Wong, one of the leaders of the pro-democracy “Umbrella” movement five years ago, was re-arrested at the airport on Sunday on suscpicion of breaching bail conditions related to overseas travel, Reuters said.

Wong had been charged with inciting and participating in an unauthorized assembly outside police headquarters on June 21 and released on bail.

“Preliminary legal advice suggested that the court had acknowledged and approved my trips to Germany and the US when it granted bail on Aug. 30,” he said in a statement.

“Therefore, it is believed that there are some mistakes have been made on the bail certificate.”

Wong said he believes he would be freed on Monday. 

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