Hong Kong protesters mark 'triad' attack

Published 23.08.2019 00:08

Hundreds of masked protesters used bins and ticket machines as barricades against riot police late Wednesday at a flash point Hong Kong metro station, a location that was marked by a mob attack a month ago.

Some protesters put on hard hats and gas masks, while others sprayed fire extinguishers and poured detergent, beer and oil on the concourse to impede entry by the police who had massed outside the metro station.

The police did not use teargas, rubber bullets or beanbag rounds to stop the protesters, which was an unusual tactic pattern considering the events that occurred in the last two months.

After police began to leave close to Wednesday midnight, the protesters left the area shortly after.

The demonstration was convened to mark a month since a gang wearing white T-shirts and armed with poles and sticks set upon anti-government protesters at the same location.

That assault on July 21 had pushed the city deeper into political violence, but the sit-in on Wednesday was largely peaceful until police vans arrived at the Yuen Long station close to the Chinese border and the atmosphere soured.

The attack had left nearly 50 people – including passers-by – in hospital, some heavily wounded.

Hong Kong's police were targets of heavy criticism for being too slow to respond.

Police denied any links to the attack, but trust in the force – which was already facing an unprecedented challenge on the streets – has since sunk alarmingly low.

Hong Kong's political crisis was spurred by an attempt to bundle through a bill allowing extradition to China through parliament.

For the last two months, people in Hong Kong have been holding massive protests. Despite police brutality and the excessive use of force, the protesters have not stepped back and recently, over 1.5 million demonstrators took to the streets in the pouring rain, challenging the local government's threatening declarations. No police force was used to contain the march and no incidents occurred, which was a good point about it.

But protests have billowed out into a wider pro-democracy movement, which has seen the financial center's airport closed and violent street clashes with the police.

It is unclear in which direction the protests, which are leaderless and organized on social media, are heading after nearly three months of draining street action.

The city has enjoyed several peaceful protests recently – without police baton charges, tear gas or protesters hurling rocks.

Hong Kong's government has so far refused to buck to any of their demands, including scrapping the extradition bill completely, the resignation of city leader Carrie Lam and a full independent inquiry into police actions during the protests.

But they say they are digging in for the long haul.

"Although we are so tired, we know that the momentum for the protests is still there," said a sit-in participant who identified himself only as Leung.

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