Dozens held in Hong Kong after anti-parallel trading march turns violent | World news


Petrol bombs were hurled at a Hong Kong police station and dozens of people have been arrested following a march against so-called parallel trading near the Chinese border.

The Democratic party said about 10,000 people marched peacefully in Sheung Shui district on Sunday, but violence erupted after police ordered protesters to disperse.

Several petrol bombs were thrown at the Sheung Shui police station, about 1.5km (1 mile) from where the rally took place.

The protest comes during a period of heightened anti-mainland sentiment in Hong Kong, where a pro-democracy movement demanding greater freedoms from Beijing has raged for nearly seven months.

A new Hong Kong extradition law is proposed, which would allow people to be transferred to mainland China for a variety of crimes. Residents fear it could lead to politically motivated extraditions into China’s much harsher judicial system.

Large public demonstrations start as thousands march in the streets to protest against the extradition bill.

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, introduces concessions to the extradition bill, including limiting the scope of extraditable offences, but critics say they are not enough.

The scale of protests continues to increase as more than half a million people take to the streets. Police use rubber bullets and teargas against the biggest protests Hong Kong has seen for decades.

Lam says the proposed extradition law has been postponed indefinitely.

The protests continue as demonstrators storm the Legislative Council, destroying pictures, daubing graffiti on the walls and flying the old flag of Hong Kong emblazoned with the British union flag. The protests coincide with the 22nd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong from the UK back to China.

Armed men in white T-shirts thought to be supporting the Chinese government attack passengers and passers-by in Yuen Long metro station, while nearby police take no action.

44 protesters are charged with rioting, which further antagonises the anti-extradition bill movement.

By now the protest movement has coalesced around five key demands: complete withdrawal of the proposed extradition bill, withdrawal of the use of the word “riot” in relation to the protests, unconditional release of arrested protesters and charges against them dropped, an independent inquiry into police behaviour and the implementation of genuine universal suffrage.

The first charges are brought against protesters for covering their faces, after authorities bring in new laws banning face masks in order to make it easier to identify or detain protesters.

Chan Tong-kai, the murder suspect whose case prompted the original extradition bill is released from prison, saying that he is willing to surrender himself to Taiwan. The extradition bill is also formally withdrawn, a key demand of protesters.

Chow Tsz-lok, 22, becomes the first direct fatality of the protests. Chow, a computer science student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), was found injured in a car park in Tseung Kwan O in Kowloon, where he was believed to have fallen one storey. Protesters had been trying to disrupt a police officer’s wedding, which was being held in the area. A week later a 70-year-old cleaner who is thought to have been hit by a brick during a clash between protesters and pro-Beijing residents becomes the second person to die.

The marchers were protesting against parallel trading – thousands of mainlanders cross the border every day to bulk-buy goods such as infant formula to sell at a profit in China.

There is significant resentment against the practice, which frequently leaves goods in short supply in border towns, and has driven up the price of commodities as well as shop rents.

“If the police could spare one of the cars they drove here to handle the march to instead deal with the trading problem, we would not have to organise this protest,” said Dino Chan, a Sheung Shui district councillor and one of the rally organisers.

He added that 42 people were arrested following the violence.

The anti-government protests have been blamed for helping plunge Hong Kong’s economy into recession for the first time in a decade.

The complete withdrawal of the proposed extradition bill

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, has said her government will formally withdraw the bill that ignited months of protests. Hong Kong residents had feared it could be used by China to extradite people for political reasons. They want guarantees that it cannot be reintroduced at a later date.

Withdrawal of the use of the word ‘riot’ in relation to the protests

Protesters want the government to officially recognise that their movement has been a series of legitimate protests, rather than a riot, as has been stated in official communications.

Unconditional release of arrested protesters and charges against them dropped

Hundreds of people have been arrested in recent weeks, and the protesters are demanding that all of them be freed, and that no convictions should stand against any of them.

An independent inquiry into police behaviour

Police use of force has escalated since the demonstrations began, while protesters have also resorted to increasingly violent measures. Demonstrators say an inquiry into police brutality is the number-one priority.

Implementation of genuine universal suffrage

Hong Kong’s chief executive is currently selected by a 1,200-member committee, and nearly half of the 70 legislative council seats are filled by limited electorates representing different sectors of the economy. The protesters want to be able to vote for their leaders in free and open democratic elections. 


Photograph: Anushree Fadnavis/X06783

The protests were triggered by a proposal to allow extraditions to mainland China, but have morphed into a broader revolt for democratic freedoms.

On Sunday the violence was not at the level seen during many previous protests, with police using pepper spray to disperse crowds but not teargas.

China and the Hong Kong administration have refused to bow to protester demands, which include direct elections, an inquiry into alleged police misconduct and amnesty for the nearly 7,000 people arrested so far.



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