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Hong Kong's Anti-Extradition Movement

Hongkongers Occupy Airport in a Solemn Protest Against Police Brutality

2019/08/12 , News
TIME
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Images
TIME
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Black-clad protesters flooded the arrivals hall of Hong Kong’s international airport today, following a night of unprecedented police violence that left the inside of several subway stations clouded with tear gas and multiple demonstrators seriously injured.

Sunday night marked a shocking escalation as a young woman believed to be a volunteer medic was reportedly blinded in one eye after being hit with a projectile. Elsewhere in the city, police were captured on video apparently firing crowd control weapons toward protesters at point-blank range in enclosed spaces. Officers were also seen chasing people down moving escalators while swinging batons.

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Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Images
An anti-extradition bill demonstrator attends a protest at the departure hall of Hong Kong Airport on August 12, 2019.

Volleys of tear gas were fired inside at least two mass transit stations, exposing both protesters and bystanders to the noxious gas. As demonstrations popped up in several neighborhoods, police were accused of disguising themselves as protesters and making arrests. One viral video appeared to show a plainclothes man kneeling on the neck of a young protester, bleeding profusely onto the sidewalk as he pleaded for the man to stop.

“Yesterday’s police operation was ridiculous,” said Nicekayla, a 27-year-old retail worker who, like many of the protesters, declined to use her real name for fear of arrest. “I was supposed to work today, but I took leave. I hope the government will hear us.”

By early afternoon, demonstrators had almost filled the hall, dressed in the black T-shirts and dust masks that have become the de facto uniform of the protest movement. The crowd was visibly angry over the escalation, chanting “an eye for an eye!” in reference to the young medic whose blood-drenched face became iconic overnight. Many wore patches of gauze over their right eyes.

“I came out today to reject the government in Hong Kong and and the police violence,” said Matthew, 22, who works in IT. “What we saw on the TV yesterday, police using whatever violence that can be used, this is insane.”

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Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Images
Anti-extradition bill protesters attend a mass demonstration after a woman was shot in the eye during a protest at Hong Kong International Airport on August 12, 2019.

The Asian financial hub has been rocked by ten consecutive weeks of anti-government protests that show no sign of abating. The government has so far responded by authorizing escalating use of force by police, which has galvanized public anger and widened distrust of authority at a time of crisis. In recent weeks, violence has rapidly escalated by both authorities and a small core of radical protesters launching bricks and other projectiles toward police lines.

The protests were sparked in response to a government proposal that would have allowed the transfer of fugitives to mainland China, but soon spiraled into a larger movement demanding more democracy in the semi-autonomous region of China. The city’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥), has suspended the offending legislation but refuses to officially withdraw it.

Protesters are demanding full withdrawal of the bill, amnesty for all demonstrators arrested in relation to the unrest, a retraction of the government’s characterization of the protests as “riots,” an independent inquiry into allegations of police use of force, and universal suffrage, which is promised in the territory’s charter.

© 2019 Time Inc. All rights reserved. Republished from time.com and published with permission of Time Inc. Reproduction in any manner in any language in whole or in part without prior written permission is prohibited.

TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee (@thenewslensintl)

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Next article:

Hong Kong Airport Adopts Measures to Restrict Future Protests

Hong Kong's Anti-Extradition Movement:

At the end of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, Hongkongers promised they will be back. In June 2019, Hong Kong mobilized 1/3 of the population to protest against the government's extradition bill. The News Lens is covering the on-going movement and rallies in collaboration with our Hong Kong-based team.

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