Tempers flare on second day of Hong Kong airport protest

Published on Tuesday, 13 August 2019 20:11
Written by The Associated Press

HONG KONG (AP) - Riot police clashed briefly with pro-democracy protesters at Hong Kong’s airport Tuesday night in a chaotic end to a second day of demonstrations that caused mass cancellations and disruptions at the Chinese city’s busy transport hub.

Calm eventually returned, with most of the protesters leaving the airport hours after officers armed with pepper spray and swinging batons tried to enter the terminal, fighting with demonstrators who barricaded entrances with luggage carts. Protesters said they planned to return to the airport early Wednesday.

The burst of violence also included protesters beating at least two men they suspected of being undercover agents and came the same day Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader warned that the demonstrators had pushed events onto a “path of no return,” highlighting the hardening positions on both sides.

Police took away several people they caught outside the arrival hall and eventually retreated.

Police said they were trying to help ambulance officers reach an injured man whom protesters had cornered and detained for about two hours on suspicion of being an undercover agent from mainland China. Rescuers eventually succeeded in getting him to an ambulance, local broadcaster RTHK reported.

Protesters then detained and beat a second man whom they also suspected of being an undercover agent.

After a brief period when planes were able to take off and land early in the day, authorities were forced to cancel the remaining flights. The airport authority suspended check-in services for departing flights as of 4:30 p.m., with departing flights that had completed the process able to continue to operate.

The airport’s website showed at least 120 cancellations and it advised people not to come to the airport, one of the world’s busiest.

More than 200 flights were canceled Monday and passengers were forced to stay in the city while airlines tried to find other ways to get them to their destinations.

The airport disruptions escalated a summer of demonstrations aimed at what many Hong Kong residents see as an increasing erosion of the freedoms they were promised in 1997 when Communist Party-ruled mainland China took over what had been a British colony.

The protests have built on an opposition movement that shut down much of the city for seven weeks in 2014 before it eventually fizzled.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Nation-World on Tuesday, 13 August 2019 20:11. Updated: Tuesday, 13 August 2019 20:14.