Sun, Sep 15, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Groups clash as HK protests enter 15th week

The Guardian and AFP, HONG KONG and NEW YORK

A pro-China supporter, center right, fights with an anti-government protester, center left, inside a shopping mall in the Kowloon Bay district of Hong Kong yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Rival groups of demonstrators clashed in Hong Kong and police made arrests in another weekend of mass protests after months of political unrest.

Dozens of pro-Beijing protesters waved Chinese flags and chanted “support the police” at a mall in Kowloon Bay yesterday as pro-democracy demonstrators gathered, clad in black and wearing masks.

After a standoff, members of the two sides began to fight, throwing punches and hitting each other with umbrellas before police separated them. At least one man was seen bleeding from the head.

Groups of anti-government and pro-government protesters yelled at each other and scuffled by a nearby “Lennon wall” — murals of protest art set up by demonstrators.

In one incident, protesters surrounded a woman they accused of filming them and refused to let her leave. Police were seen tackling and subduing several people, some of whom said they were local residents going to the mall.

As Hong Kong enters its fourth month of mass protests, tensions between supporters and critics of the pro-democracy movement have escalated.

Earlier yesterday, fights broke out between residents in Fortress Hill and a group of pro-government demonstrators in blue T-shirts, after a Lennon wall had been torn down.

Video footage showed groups of men using Chinese flags to beat mostly younger men.

In one scene, a group chased and kicked a young man until a passerby shielded him with his body.

Hundreds of anti-government protesters in masks and all-black outfits were also marching in Tin Shui Wai, a neighborhood in Hong Kong’s New Territories, defying a police ban on the planned event.

Bus lines to the area were shut as riot police faced off against protesters who were building barricades on the streets.

Yesterday marked the 15th consecutive weekend of mass protests in Hong Kong, where demonstrations against the government have deeply divided society. The protests, triggered by an extradition bill that would allow suspects to be sent to mainland China, has turned into a broader pro-democracy movement.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) promised to permanently withdraw the bill, but protesters have vowed to continue until all their demands are met.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) on Friday urged US President Donald Trump to include a “human rights clause” in any trade agreement with China, and sought Washington’s backing for the territory’s democracy movement.

The 22-year-old called on US politicians to pass a bill expressing support for the pro-democracy campaign during a speaking engagement in New York, a few hours after arriving in the US.

“It’s significant to add a human rights clause in the trade negotiations and put Hong Kong protests under the agenda of the trade negotiations,” Wong told reporters afterward.

The world’s two biggest economies have been locked in a bitter trade dispute for the past year, resulting in tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in two-way trade.

Trade talks between Beijing and Washington are scheduled for next month.

Wong said it is crucial Hong Kong is factored into the negotiations, adding that the territory faces the threat of emergency laws “similar to martial law” and fears that China could send troops to the semi-autonomous region.

“If China has no intention to safeguard Hong Kong’s economic freedom and open business it will also affect and damage the world economy,” he said.

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