Hong Kong protests discharge into violence

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SThey came with umbrellas, diving goggles, construction helmets, and surgical masks. And they used the same protest methods as they did five years ago. They blocked central traffic arteries and erected blockades of barriers. The new Hong Kong protest movement consciously draws on the insignia of the 2014 Rainbow Umbrella Movement. Because despite its unsuccessful end, the then more than two months lasting blockade of the government district is still regarded by many young people as a moment of political awakening.

Friederike Böge

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents, most of them pupils and students, followed the appeal on Wednesday and barricaded the access roads to the Parliament and Government headquarters in the Admiralty district early in the morning. Their actions had immediate effect: the so-called Legislative Council was forced to postpone the planned debate on the extradition law, as many MPs failed to get through the crowd. At least, the demonstrators messed up the tight schedule that advocates of the law had enforced to say goodbye in record time next Thursday. The demonstrators are calling for the repeal of the bill, which would allow for the first time the extradition of suspects to the Chinese judiciary. In chants they chanted “Pull it back” and “No delivery to China”. Even on the wall of the People's Liberation Army base in Hong Kong, someone had written the slogan “Battle of the Evil Law”.

The anger of the young protesters erupted into violence in the afternoon. After one of them had set the ultimatum for the repeal of the bill, some stones, bottles and umbrellas and metal bars threw at police officers, others tried to storm the Legislative Council buildings. These had been secured by helmets, shields and truncheons by a chain of security forces in protective gear since early morning. The police reacted with counter violence. She used tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets.

There were calls in social networks to occupy Parliament's boardroom, as well as appeals to peacefully demonstrate alone. After the demonstrators had ignored a government call to free the streets around the government district for traffic at noon, the police fired tear gas cartridges into the crowd to disperse the blockade. Towards evening, riot police moved against the demonstrators and pushed them back from the parliamentary seat.

Obviously, the Hong Kong authorities are anxious to prevent a recurrence of the siege situation of 2014. With the images of violence, however, they risk further fueling popular opposition to the proposed law. Five years ago, the use of tear gas against young students had given broad support to the protest movement.

(tagToTranslate) Fernando Cheung (t) Chan King-Chi (t) Police (t) Students (t) Protest Movement (t) Hardhat (t) Diving goggles

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