Police fired tear gas on anti-government protesters in Hong Kong on Tuesday as the city saw protests in multiple districts while the rest of China celebrated its national holiday.
Protesters and the police faced off in Wong Tai Sin district, where tear gas was used against a group of protesters. The rest of the Kowloon peninsula saw other small demonstrations.
On Hong Kong Island, tens of thousands of people defied a police ban and high heat to march through the streets, calling for leader Carrie Lam to meet their demands for reform, which have remained largely unchanged since protests began in June. Their anger was also directed at Beijing, which celebrated 70 years of Communist rule with a massive military parade in the capital on Tuesday.
The protests are an embarrassment to Beijing. In anticipation of unrest, more than half a dozen subway stations were shut down by midday while major malls also closed their doors to keep protesters out. There was a heavy police presence across the city.
- Ondo 2020 Guber Election: 17 aspirants jostle for PDP ticket
- C/River youths hail Ayade over PMB’s approval of Bakassi deep seaport project
Many residents believe Beijing’s leaders have meddled in Hong Kong affairs despite promises of autonomy for the former British colony until 2047. A leaked tape of Chief Executive Lam recently revealed that Beijing had forced her hand on a number of issues over the summer.
“We are fighting for the freedom and democracy that we should have because the Communist Party has reneged on the promise of universal suffrage,’’ said a protester named Ramon, a councilor in his 30s. “They also try to take away our freedom to rally, our freedom of speech and you can see the police are really brutal after high profile CCP (Chinese Communist Party) leaders supported them.’’
Protests first began in Hong Kong on June 9 over a legislative bill that would have allowed for residents of the former British colony to stand trial in mainland China. Lam made a major concession in early September by formally withdrawing the bill but she has failed to appease political anger as many now demand an independent commission into police violence as well as electoral reform.
Since June, hundreds of protesters have been arrested on charges including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons, criminal damage, loitering and assaulting police officers.“I think the bill is only the trigger but how they handled things made us even angrier,’’ said a protester in his 40s, surnamed Chan.
“I am angry at the Beijing government because they control everything.“The Hong Kong government is under their control.’’“We don’t have the choice to choose our own chief executive and legislative council. “We don’t have real freedom to choose our legislative councilors because of an unjust election process,’’ he said. Protesters wore their customary black shirts and many added “Guy Fawkes” masks to mark National Day, as a symbol against authoritarianism.
Over 1700 people have been arrested since protests began, according to police figures.