Protesters & Police Clash In Hong Kong Over Crackdown
Police fired pepper spray as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets
Police fired pepper spray in running battles with thousands of demonstrators on the streets of Hong Kong Sunday as they tried to encircle China’s representative office in protest against Beijing’s attempts to stop independence activism.
Streets filled with mostly young people, many dressed in black, brought to mind weeks of pro-democracy marches in Y 2014.
This time they were protesting before a ruling due Monday that is expected to bar 2 lawmakers from taking office in Hong Kong’s legislature.
The situation is seen by many of the territory’s legal and political elite as one of the biggest tests of Hong Kong’s independent rule of law that the global financial hub has faced since its handover to China nearly 20 years ago.
Critics say the ruling from a top committee of China’s parliament essentially circumvents local courts.
The 2 lawmakers, Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung, had pledged allegiance to the “Hong Kong Nation” and displayed a “Hong Kong is not China” banner during a swearing-in ceremony for the city’s legislative council in October. Their oaths were not accepted and their right to retake them is being challenged in the local courts by the autonomous Hong Kong government.
Close to a thousand police officers, some with riot shields and batons, and some behind temporary metal barricades, were deployed to prevent protesters surging towards the central government’s Liaison Office, viewed by many as a symbol of Beijing’s increasing influence on the international city.
Chanting “Hong Kong Independence” among other slogans, the protesters, some with medical masks and cling film to shield their eyes, tried repeatedly to charge through police lines but were forced back. Several were arrested.
Also reminiscent of the 79-day democracy protests 2 years ago, many opened umbrellas to protect themselves from pepper spray and blocked a major road running past the China Liaison office, erecting makeshift barricades out of bamboo, wood and rubbish bins to hamper traffic.
The protesters were eventually dispersed by police after a nearly 6-hour standoff.