Tear gas and water cannon as Hong Kong crowds defy rally ban
Protesters react to tear gas fired by police during a pro-democracy march along Nathan Road in the Kowloon district in Hong Kong on October 20, 2019. Large crowds of Hong Kongers defied a police ban and began an illegal march on October 20, their numbers swollen by anger over the recent stabbing and beating of two pro-democracy protesters.
AFP/Ed Jones
Tear gas and water cannon as Hong Kong crowds defy rally ban
Yan Zhao, Xinqi Su (Agence France-Presse) - October 21, 2019 - 8:41am

HONG KONG — As the protesters fled, frontliners stayed behind to slow the advance of riot police, setting fire to makeshift barricades. Clashes went on deep into the night.

A Xiaomi and a Best Mart store -- both mainland Chinese businesses -- were set alight.

Activists attacked

Tensions were running high after the leader of the group organising the weekend rally, Jimmy Sham, was hospitalised after being attacked by unknown assailants wielding hammers earlier in the week.

Then late Saturday, a man handing out pro-democracy flyers was stabbed in the neck and stomach, reportedly by an assailant who shouted pro-Beijing slogans. 

Many on Sunday's march said they wanted to show they were unbowed by the attacks and moves by authorities to ban public gatherings. 

"The more they suppress, the more we resist," a 69-year-old demonstrator, who gave her surname as Yeung, told AFP. "Can police arrest us all, tens of thousands of people?"

Philip Tsoi, a self-described frontline protester, said they needed to keep getting numbers out even though many hardcore activists like him had been "arrested or wounded" in recent weeks.

"What I want is a truly democratic government whose leader is elected by Hong Kong people instead of selected by a Communist regime," he told AFP.

Vigilante violence has mounted on both sides of the ideological divide.

In recent weeks pro-democracy supporters have badly beaten people who vocally disagree with them -- although those fights tend to be spontaneous outbursts of mob anger during protests.

In contrast, pro-democracy figures have been attacked in a noticeably more targeted way, with at least eight prominent government critics, including politicians, beaten by unknown assailants since mid-August.

Protesters have labelled the attacks "white terror" and accused the city's shadowy organised crime groups of forming an alliance with Beijing supporters.

Beijing has denounced the protests as a foreign-backed plot and condemned attacks on those voicing support for China.

But it has remained largely silent on the attacks carried out against pro-democracy figures.

Months of unrest

Hong Kong has now been battered by 20 weeks of protests and with no political solution in sight, clashes have intensified each month.

Hardliners have embraced widespread vandalism, while riot police are quick to respond with tear gas, rubber bullets and, more recently, live rounds.

The rallies were triggered by a now-abandoned plan to allow extraditions to the authoritarian mainland, but have morphed into wider calls for democracy and police accountability.

Protesters are demanding an independent inquiry into the police, an amnesty for those arrested and fully free elections, all of which have been rejected by Beijing and Hong Kong's unelected leader Carrie Lam.

Earlier this month, Lam invoked a colonial-era emergency law to ban face masks.

The decision set off a new wave of protests and vandalism that shut down much of the city's transport network.

In the last fortnight, the clashes have become less intense, with the city's subway closing each night at 10:00 pm.

But protests have continued, with many defying the mask ban during "flashmob" rallies.

Separately, Chinese state television CCTV claimed that "sooner or later," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will be punished for refusing to apologise for an earlier tweet by Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets supporting the Hong Kong demonstrators.

CCTV accused Silver of "inventing lies to dirty China," and said that by defending Morey he had "crossed the bottom line by showing a lack of respect to Chinese."

The backlash against Morey's comments has cast a cloud over the NBA's lucrative broadcasting, merchandising and sponsorship interests in China, where it has legions of fans.

HONG KONG HONG KONG PROTESTS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: November 27, 2020 - 2:19pm

Millions march in Hong Kong in a powerful rebuke of an extradition law feared to expose them to China's capricious justice system.

November 27, 2020 - 2:19pm

Hong Kong prison staff were wrong to cut the hair of a veteran dissident known for his long locks, the city's top court said Friday, in the second significant ruling against authorities this month.

The decision comes as powerful establishment voices call for an overhaul of the judiciary — something opponents fear could muzzle the Hong Kong legal system's vaunted independence as Beijing cracks down on critics.

Friday's ruling by the Final Court of Appeal is the culmination of a long legal battle by Leung Kwok-hung, 64, who served a brief jail sentence in 2014 linked to his protesting.

Better known by the sobriquet "Longhair", he is one of the city's best known dissidents, beginning his career campaigning against British colonial rule and later becoming a fierce critic of Beijing. 

A panel of top judges — including Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma — unanimously ruled that Leung's rights had been breached under sexual discrimination laws when his hair was cut in jail.

Hong Kong prison authorities insist all male inmates — AFP

November 24, 2020 - 5:15pm

A Hong Kong man was dragged from a court shouting democracy slogans and remanded into custody on Tuesday after becoming the third person to be charged under a sweeping new national security law.

The man's detention is a stark illustration of how the new legislation, imposed by Beijing this summer, has created a host of speech crimes with stiff consequences for those accused of breaching the rules.

Ma Chun-man, 30, was bundled away by police as he shouted "Spread the word, democracy is cultivated with blood and sweat" after being charged with "inciting secession" — one of the new national security crimes — according to an AFP reporter in court.

Prosecutors said Ma was arrested seven times by police between 15 August and 22 November and that he had chanted slogans calling for Hong Kong's independence from China. — AFP

November 12, 2020 - 5:23pm

China warned Thursday the mass resignations of pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong were a "blatant challenge" to its authority over the city.

Fifteen legislators were set to quit the chamber in protest at the Beijing-sanctioned ousting of four colleagues, leaving the assembly a muted gathering of government loyalists.

The resignations come with the city's beleaguered pro-democracy movement and avenues of dissent already under sustained attack since Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law this year.

Half of the group had made good on their pledge by Thursday afternoon, which sparked a furious response from Beijing's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office.

"It once again showed their stubborn confrontation against the central government and a blatant challenge to the power of the central government. We severely condemn this," a statement said. — AFP

November 11, 2020 - 7:42pm

Hong Kong's pro-democracy lawmakers say they would all quit in protest at the ousting of four of their colleagues who were judged a threat to national security by authoritarian Beijing.

The resignations will reduce the semi-autonomous city's once-feisty legislature to a gathering of Chinese central government loyalists, effectively ending pluralism in the chamber.

They also mark another blow to Hong Kong's beleaguered pro-democracy movement, which has been under sustained attack since China imposed a sweeping national security law, including arrests for social media posts and activists fleeing overseas. — AFP

October 16, 2020 - 7:00pm

A top Chinese diplomat warns Canada against granting asylum to Hong Kong democracy protesters, adding that doing so could jeopardize the "health and safety" of Canadians living in the southern Chinese financial hub.

The remarks by Cong Peiwu, Beijing's Ottawa envoy, prompted a rebuke from Canada's foreign minister, further escalating tensions between the two countries.

Cong was responding to reports that a Hong Kong couple who took part in last year's huge and sometimes violent protests had been granted refugee status. — AFP

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