HONG KONG (Reuters) – Police fired tear fuel and rubber bullets at demonstrators hurling rocks in a rural Hong Kong city on Saturday as a number of thousand activists gathered to protest an assault by suspected triad gang members at a practice station final weekend.
Activists held the march in Yuen Lengthy, scene of the assault by club-wielding males, regardless of a police ban on security grounds.
Constructing barricades out of avenue furnishings and umbrellas, protesters threw rocks and bottles. Many armed themselves with climbing sticks and improvised shields from wooden, surfboards, cardboard and different supplies.
Police, extensively criticized for failing to raised shield the general public from final weekend’s assault, responded on Sunday with tear fuel, rubber bullets and sponge grenades, a crowd management weapon.
A number of hundred protesters remained as darkish fell, combating with police within the native practice station, the place blood may very well be seen spattered on the ground. Earlier, Reuters witnesses noticed a tough core group of activists with small steel bats, steel and wood poles and slingshots shifting towards the human tide.
Final Sunday, about 100 white-shirted males stormed the Yuen Lengthy mass-transit station hours after protesters marched by means of central Hong Kong and defaced China’s Liaison Workplace – the principle image of Beijing’s authority over the previous British colony.
The lads attacked black-clad protesters coming back from Hong Kong island, passers-by, journalists and lawmakers with pipes and golf equipment, leaving 45 folks injured. Among the males later fled to Nam Pin Wai, a standard walled village.
“We’re all ready for the white shirts to return out. In the event that they need to struggle us we’re prepared,” mentioned Harlem Lo, a protester sporting a black T-shirt, who stood his floor regardless of riot police makes an attempt to clear the world.
“We’ll get revenge for the beatings if they arrive out.”
Anger turned towards police at Saturday’s march.
“They intentionally let the triads beat up protesters to get revenge on us … We’re right here to show them a lesson,” mentioned one protester Kevin, shouting an obscenity exterior a police station.
The Yuen Lengthy assault and the vandalism on the Liaison Workplace marked new fronts in a protest motion that has intensified during the last two months.
The protests, thought-about probably the most direct problem to the authority of China’s President Xi Jinping on Hong Kong, mushroomed on Friday as 1000’s of activists thronged the arrivals halls of Hong Kong worldwide airport.
The protesters, initially demanding the scrapping of a invoice that will have allowed folks to be despatched to mainland courts for trial, are actually additionally looking for impartial inquiries into police use of pressure, the resignation of Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam and full democratic reform – anathema to Beijing’s Communist Occasion management.
“Simply take heed to the folks of Hong Kong – they’re making an attempt to ship a message to Beijing. I don’t assume Hong Kong is simply one other metropolis of China, and I feel China has to respect that,” mentioned James Yip, 27, protesting on Saturday however, in contrast to many fellow demonstrators, praising police for his or her restraint.
The disaster has begun exposing fissures in Lam’s administration, with police chiefs and rank-and-file officers enraged at an apology over final weekend’s violence from her chief secretary on Friday, apparently made with out session.
The official, Matthew Cheung, mentioned the federal government wouldn’t shirk its duty “and the police’s dealing with fell quick.”
On Saturday, government-funded broadcaster RTHK reported an replace from Cheung wherein he mentioned he “completely helps” police and the pressure had “fulfilled its duties in sustaining social order below huge stress at this tough time.”
Britain handed Hong Kong to China in 1997 amid ensures that its core freedoms and autonomy, together with the suitable to protest and an impartial judiciary, can be protected below a “one nation, two techniques” method.
Many worry these rights are below risk.
Reporting by Donny Kwok, James Pomfret, Greg Torode, Marius Zaharia and Simon Gardner; Writing by Jennifer Hughes; Enhancing by Mark Potter and Janet Lawrence