HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong riot police and protesters exchanged tear gas and petrol bombs as an illegal anti-government march that attracted tens of thousands descended into chaos, with hundreds of shops trashed and Chinese banks and metro stations targeted.
Immediately after two weeks of relative calm, the big rally showed that the pro-democracy campaign has not lost help and that hardcore protesters will continue to clash with police.
“You can see Hong Kongers will not simply give up their proper to demonstrate… today’s turnout is extra than I anticipated,” stated Daniel Yeung, an unemployed protester.
“You can see that as extended as folks maintain coming out in huge numbers we are secure and can maintain fighting,” he stated.
Hong Kong has been battered by months of normally huge and violent protests more than issues that Beijing is tightening its grip on the city, the worst political crisis due to the fact Britain handed the city back to China in 1997.
Protesters threw petrol bombs at the Tsim Sha Tsui police station on Kowloon peninsula just after police inside fired volleys of tear gas to disperse demonstrators on the street.
Other folks erected fiery barriers on Nathan Road, a big retail strip in the Kowloon district, as riot police, shields in front, marched toward them, when other folks fired tear gas.
Police made use of quite a few water canon trucks to disperse protesters, spraying jets of blue-dye into the crowds and sending hundreds fleeing. Police have made use of the blue dye to determine protesters.
It was the heaviest use of water canons by police and quite a few folks hit with the water created coughs, suggesting an irritant may possibly be mixed with the water.
As riot police sophisticated protesters fell back to their subsequent barricade, in contrast to previous rallies when they stood and clashed with police, throwing petrol bombs and bricks.
Along the march route, protesters trashed metro stations and hundreds of shops, throwing goods onto the streets. Numerous Chinese banks have been targeted.
Protesters have in the previous targeted Chinese banks and shops with hyperlinks to mainland China, leaving mainland Chinese living in Hong Kong worried about their security.
One particular trashed shop on Sunday had notices left on its shutters saying it was attacked simply because it was owned by mainland Chinese mobs who had attacked innocent folks. “We in no way rob. We do not forgive. We do not forget”, stated the notice.
By nightfall only smaller groups of protesters remained, with a single group throwing petrol bombs down a street toward police who responded with tear gas. Huge numbers of riot police guarded quite a few intersections.
Police stated they had seized extra than 40 petrol bombs that they think may possibly have been en route to the protest.
They stated protesters had set fire to various road barriers and trashed shops in quite a few Kowloon districts. Police detonated what they stated was an explosive device surrounded by broken bricks and left in the middle of a street.
The unrest was sparked 4 months ago by a bill that would have permitted extradition to mainland China for trial in Communist Celebration-controlled courts. It has due to the fact widened into a pro-democracy movement.
The protests in the city pose the greatest preferred challenge to China’s President Xi Jinping due to the fact he took energy. Beijing has denied eroding Hong Kong’s freedoms and Xi has vowed to crush any try to split China.
Police had declared Sunday’s march illegal due to issues more than public security. Protesters, ranging from young students to the elderly, quite a few carrying umbrellas to shield their faces from street surveillance cameras, face arrest.
For the very first couple of hours, the march was peaceful.
At the start out of the march banners reading “Free Hong Kong” stretched across the ground. Other posters study “HongKongers Resist”, when graffiti on a single wall stated “Better Dead than Red”.
Hardcore protesters set up road blocks and sprayed graffiti saying: “We chose to die on our feet rather than reside on our knees!” Some tore up pavement bricks for clashes with police.
Protesters think the police’s refusal to problem a permit for Sunday’s march was an try to limit their numbers, as some would worry becoming arrested.
“The government pretends we just want to destroy the city. We’ll be out for as extended as it requires to let the globe know it is them who are destroying it,” stated Ray, 24, who planned to go dwelling just after a couple of hours as he feared arrest.
Hong Kong is governed beneath a “one nation, two systems” formula, which permits the city freedoms not out there on the mainland such as an independent judiciary.
Protesters are angry at Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam for what they see as her failure to guard these freedoms from an encroaching Beijing, imposing colonial-era emergency powers, and permitting what they say is excessive force by police.
“Carrie Lam is not listening to us at all. This may possibly function in China but not in Hong Kong,” stated Cheung, a 33-year-old lady wearing a face mask and black T-shirt.
Lam’s annual policy speech final Wednesday failed to address protesters’ demands.
Protesters have 5 core demands: universal suffrage, an independent inquiry into police action against protesters, amnesty for these charged, an finish to describing protesters as rioters, and the formal withdrawal of the extradition bill.
Lam has stated the bill is dead, but it is however to be formally withdrawn. She has rejected the other demands. On Sunday she stated a police complaints inquiry will be completed by December.
Two folks have been shot and wounded by police and thousands injured due to the fact the protests escalated in June. Police have arrested extra than two,300 folks.
The Asian monetary hub is facing its very first recession in a decade simply because of the unrest.
Reporting by Twinnie Siu, Jessie Pang, Clare Jim, Sarah Wu, Donny Kwok, and Tom Westbrook Writing by Michael Perry and Farah Master Editing by Richard Pullin/ Raju Gopalakrishnan/Frances Kerry/Susan Fenton