Published: Mon, September 02, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Hong Kong protesters target airport but planes are running

Hong Kong protesters target airport but planes are running

The latest clashes in Hong Kong on Saturday saw police fire tear gas and water cannons while pro-democracy protesters threw petrol bombs, plunging the Asian financial hub into its worst crisis in decades.

Monday's strike name comes with the town nonetheless recovering from a weekend of clashes that noticed not less than a dozen flights cancelled Sunday after protesters blocked routes to the airport.

Hong Kong protesters blockaded the city's global airport on Sunday, capping off a weekend of chaos that involved some of the most intense clashes yet seen in the city's almost three-month-old political crisis.

Also Sunday, about 200 people gathered at the British Consulate.

Undeterred by a police ban and the arrest of a handful of democracy activists on Friday, some protesters came prepared, gathering in small groups to hand out supplies like gas masks and helmets, igniting street-wide fires in Wai Chan.

Protesters also set up flaming barricades on the streets of Tung Chung, a new town not far from the global airport at Chek Lap Kok in northern Lantau Island.

"The police warn all protesters to stop their illegal acts and leave immediately", they said in a statement.

All transport links to and from the airport were cut off for hours, until a large contingent of riot police arrived and cleared roads leading to the city.

Protesters are demanding more democratic freedoms and for embattled Beijing-backed leader Carrie Lam to step down.

Images show police hitting people with batons and using pepper spray on a train in Hong Kong's underground metro.

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Other clips posted to social media showed multiple injured and bloodied protesters, including one in a wheelchair, and EMTs locked out of subway stations, begging cops to let them in.

The protesters were mostly peaceful, but a government statement said some threw objects at police and airport employees. The protests have frequently escalated into violence between police and activists, with injuries on both sides.

Airport authorities read an injunction to protesters from a loudspeaker at a main entrance, but they failed to deter protesters from leaving. Such unlawful police tactics continue to inflame rather than deescalate the situation.

Among scores arrested was an apparently American man who said in one of several viral videos that he has lived in Hong Kong for 24 years.

In March, one water cannon fired blue dye at protesters at Paris's Place de la République, virtually identical in appearance to the one used in Hong Kong.

Police had denied permission for a march to mark the fifth anniversary of a decision by China against fully democratic elections in Hong Kong, but protesters took to the streets anyway, as they have all summer.

The protesters were calling on the government to address their five demands - the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, the withdrawal of "riot" charges laid against people who took part in protests on June 12, the establishment of an independent probe into events during the three months of protests, the release of all arrested protesters and the implementation of universal suffrage.

The MTR Corp., which runs subway and train services across Hong Kong, stopped services to and from Tung Chung Station, saying that anti-extradition protesters had vandalized ticket machines and smartcard readers, causing "large-scale damage". "It's hard to find someone who has the same political stance as you", she said.

"Violence directed at police on Saturday is no excuse for officers to go on the rampage elsewhere".

Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997 under an agreement known as "one country, two systems", which allowed the city to retain a "high-degree of autonomy" for 50 years.

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