Thousands of protesters huddled on the main terminal of the airport in Hong Kong as a part of their demonstrations against repression that have kept the city in the spotlight for months. The cancellation of flights and all-around chaos disrupted the functioning of one of the busiest airfields in the world.
According to the Airport management, the operations suffered immensely as the protests caused many passengers to give up or search for alternative ways to reach their destinations.
For almost 60 days now, Hong Kong has been the scene of mass demonstrations. The police and the protesters are embracing extreme tactics as the gatherings continue. The Office for Hong Kong and Macau Affairs in Beijing stated that the population of the city is facing an existential threat and that the sprouts of terrorism are evident.
Yang Guang, a spokesperson in the Beijing Cabinet, added that this violent criminality must be met with resolute action, and with no leniency or mercy. He believes that everybody who has Hong Kong’s interests in mind has to say no to all the violent and law-breaking acts in the city.
Back at the airport, as the protests continued, all fights except the ones where the boarding process began, were canceled. The planes with the clearance to land already given could use the runways as well. The airport officials advised that all other flights were canceled or redirected.
The situation was getting even more complicated with thousands of passengers stuck at the airport and huge traffic gridlocks on the routes back to the city. The stifling heat did not prevent the protesters from walking to the airport, causing the complete stand-still.
Earlier this week, the police were parading the water cannons that could potentially be used on protesters. This dreaded scenario has initiated a reaction from Amnesty International, as it could be devastating to the protesters, as well as the residents. The confined urban spaces of the city could cause many casualties if the cannons are not properly used.
Both the members of the press and the legislators were witnesses to the extreme strategies for controlling the crowd. It looks like the police gave in to the provocation after the weekend protests in the main shopping areas and at the airport.
Hong Kong Free Press published the video footage of an arrest with two officers in common clothes pinning a demonstrator already pressed to the ground. Chow Ka-Iok suffered a head injury and a broken tooth. He asked for a lawyer, as per the website.
The members of the police force also reported injuries, mostly burns from petrol bombs and eye-soreness from the laser pointers.
During the march down Sham Shui Po, the crowd threw bricks at the law-enforcers and paid no attention to the warning that the tear-gas will be used. What was declared the “unauthorized assembly” was the first time the police resorted to these extreme measures.
In the city center, on each side of the Victoria Harbour, the tear-gas was deployed once again. Tsim Sha Tsui and Wai Chan districts were crowded with people who tried to stop the police by blocking the plaza.
The police even fired the gas into the train station called Kwai Fong, which is a highly unusual practice. They seldom use it indoors.
Young protesters gathered around Hennessy Road, situated in the Causeway Bay area, near the Victoria Park. While marching down the main shopping district, many participants wore face masks to hide their identity. The recognizable uniform of the demonstrators became the black T-shirt with a backpack over it. As a signature sign and heat-protection, most of them are carrying umbrellas.
Most of the banners at the Victoria Park rally read “Give Hong Kong Back to Us” and “Withdraw the Evil Law.” The extradition bill the latter refers to was what initially sparked the protests.
The demonstrators demand the departure of Carrie Lam, who is a Chinese territory leader and the free elections of her replacement. The release of people arrested during the protests and the autonomous investigation into the police use of unnecessary force are also on the list of requests.
Hong Kong was returned to the jurisdiction of China in 1997 after a long period of British reign. The principle of “one country, two systems” ensured specific democratic rights to the residents of the city, not afforded to the people on the mainland. However, the government in Beijing has slowly, but steadily been hampering Hong Kong’s freedom, according to many residents.
Lau, a flight attendant, using his day off to protest, says that the police conduct alienated some people. He did not want to provide his full name in fear of the repercussions from his employer. Allegedly, the Chinese officials threatened to bar any member of the aircrew who participates in protesting from its airspace.
Lau also believes that the police and the authorities have not been truthful to the Hong Kong people. “We must protest,” he added.
Appalled by the reactions from the police, Bea, another protester, expressed her anger and sadness. “I feel like I have to do something…” she said while joining the march.