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Asia Is China Closing Down ESCAPES From Hong Kong After Protests?

Hong Kong Airport Authority Cancels Flights over Protests

Hong Kong airport cancels ALL FLIGHTS due to a 5,000-strong demonstration after a female protester was shot in the eye by police as the city's carrier Cathay Pacific warns it will fire staff who support 'illegal protests'

  • China last week ordered Cathay Pacific to suspend certain staff because they 'pose a threat to aviation safety'
  • As a result, the airline suspended one pilot and two ground employees in relation to the on-going protests
  • Hong Kong's airport and streets witnessed another weekend of violent clashes between activists and police
  • Local media released footage of police firing bean bag rounds and beating protesters with baton in a station
  • One female protester faces losing her right eye after allegedly being shot in the face with a bean bag round
  • The incident has sparked more anger among protesters who have staged a new rally at the airport today
  • All remaining flights out of Hong Kong today have been cancelled as protesters occupy terminal buildings
  • The city's police today showed off an anti-riot water cannon that could soon be used on demonstrators
  • China today slammed violent Hong Kong protests as 'terrorism' and said the city was at a critical juncture

The Guardian UK, 12 Aug 2019.





All remaining flights out of Hong Kong International Airport on Monday have been cancelled after protesters swarmed to a terminal building to stage a sit-in. Pictured, demonstrators surround banners that read: 'Those charge to the street on today is brave!' (centre top) and 'Release all the detainees!' during the peaceful rally at the arrival hall of the airport today





Hundreds of Hong Kong protesters have started three days of rallies at the city's busy airport since Friday. The city's streets witnessed another weekend of violent clashes between activists and police. One female demonstrator faces losing her eye after being hit by a bean bag round by the police in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday. The incident has sparked more anger in public





A protester covers her one eye with a gauze during the mass demonstration at Hong Kong International Airport today after news of a woman shot in the eye during a protest shocked the financial hub. Pro-democracy leaders were calling for as many as one million people to head to the Hong Kong airport today after 40 people were injured across the city over the weekend



Hong Kong’s airport authority has cancelled departure flights after thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators flooded into one of the world’s busiest air travel hubs holding signs reading “Hong Kong is not safe” and “Shame on police”.

Roads to the airport were congested and car park spaces were full, the authority said, on the fourth day of a mass demonstration there.

“Other than departure flights that have completed the check-in process and the arrival flights already heading to Hong Kong, all other flights have been cancelled for the rest of today,” a statement said.

The abrupt shutdown came as street protests across the Chinese territory entered their 10th week with no sign of either side backing down, and the Chinese government signalled its rising anger at the protesters, denouncing some of the violent demonstrations as “terrorism”.

Rights groups and democracy activists accused police of using excessive force after teargas was fired into an enclosed subway station and officers posed as protesters before making arrests during an intense weekend of clashes.

Dressed in their uniform black T-shirts and masks, protesters at the airport handed out lists to arriving visitors documenting alleged police violence, and held up graphic images of injured protesters. Many wore eye patches in reference to a female protester who sustained an eye injury.

“I just don’t understand how people can tolerate that kind of police brutality. I feel like if I don’t come out now, I can’t come out ever,” said Hilary Lo, who took a half day’s sick leave from her accountancy firm to attend the demonstration. “People are starting to realise the police are out of control, especially with what has happened in the past two weeks.”

Some of the 5,000 activists occupying the airport’s arrivals hall went to the departure area and caused disruptions, Hong Kong police told a news conference. Police declined to say if they would move to clear the demonstrators.

This summer’s increasingly violent demonstrations have plunged the Chinese-ruled territory into its most serious crisis in decades, presenting one of the biggest challenges to China’s leader, Xi Jinping, since he came to power in 2012.

Yang Guang, a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, said: “Hong Kong’s radical demonstrators have repeatedly used extremely dangerous tools to attack police officers, which already constitutes a serious violent crime, and also shows the first signs of terrorism emerging. This wantonly tramples on Hong Kong’s rule of law and social order.”

In an apparent warning to protesters of a toughening approach on the part of authorities, Hong Kong police invited legislators and journalists on Monday to witness a display of water cannon.

Police have never used the device since two were bought after pro-democracy protests in 2014, but during Monday’s demonstration one was blasted at dummy targets in a training facility.

Last week Amnesty International said the deployment of water cannon could lead to serious injuries if misused in confined spaces. Man-Kei Tam, the director of the rights group’s Hong Kong division, said clashes between protesters and police had “escalated to another level, especially on the police side”.

An anti-riot vehicle equipped with water cannon sprays water on a dummy during a demonstration in Hong Kong on Monday. Photograph: Kin Cheung/AP

Tam cited footage of police firing teargas into a subway station in Kwai Fong on Sunday night. It was not clear how many protesters were in the station but it was rare for officers to fire teargas indoors. He also shared a video of police firing non-lethal projectiles at close range as protesters attempted to flee down an escalator at another subway station.

The police have also reported injuries among their ranks, including eye irritation from laser pointers and petrol bomb burns.

Civil Rights Observer, a local rights group that sends observers to protests, said it had serious concerns about police violence and had seen “clear evidence to show the police are violating their guidelines”, according to its spokesman, Icarus Wong Ho-yin.

During the protests at the weekend, the Hong Kong Free Press news website posted footage of one arrest that appeared to show officers dressed as protesters with an demonstrator who was pressed to the ground. The young man, who said his name was Chow Ka-lok and asked for a lawyer, sustained head wounds and a broken tooth.

Protests in Hong Kong began in early June against a legislative bill that would have allowed for residents to stand trial in mainland China on criminal charges. While the territory returned to Chinese rule in 1997, it was promised semi-autonomy for 50 years including a separate legal system. Many protesters feared the bill, now suspended, would have led to the decline of civil and political rights in the Asian financial hub.


Quote:

Why are People Protesting?


The protests were triggered by a controversial bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland CHINA, where the Communist party controls the courts, but have since evolved into a broader pro-democracy movement.
Public anger – fuelled by the aggressive tactics used by the police against demonstrators – has collided with years of frustration over worsening inequality and the cost of living in one of the world's most expensive, densely populated cities.
The protest movement was given fresh impetus on 21 July when gangs of men attacked protesters and commuters at a mass transit station – while authorities seemingly did little to intervene.
Underlying the movement is a push for full democracy in the city, whose leader is chosen by a committee dominated by a pro-Beijing establishment rather than by direct elections.

Protesters have vowed to keep their movement going until their core demands are met, such as the resignation of the city's leader, Carrie Lam, an independent inquiry into police tactics, an amnesty for those arrested and a permanent withdrawal of the bill.


Why Were People so Angry About The Extradition Bill?

Hongkongers have seen Beijing’s influence grow in recent years, as activists have been jailed and pro-democracy lawmakers disqualified from running or holding office. Independent booksellers have disappeared from the city, before reappearing in mainland China facing charges.
Under the terms of the agreement by which the former British colony was returned to Chinese control in 1997, the semi-autonomous region was meant to maintain a “high degree of autonomy” through an independent judiciary, a free press and an open market economy, a framework known as “one country, two systems”.
The extradition bill was seen as an attempt to undermine this and to give Beijing the ability to try pro-democracy activists under the judicial system of the mainland.


How Have The Authorities Responded?

Lam has shown no sign of backing down beyond agreeing to suspend the extradition bill, while Beijing has issued increasingly shrill condemnations but has left it to the city's semi-autonomous government to deal with the situation. Meanwhile police have violently clashed directly with protesters, repeatedly firing teargas and rubber bullets.
Beijing has ramped up its accusations that foreign countries are “fanning the fire” of unrest in the city. China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi has ordered the US to “immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any form”.
.

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