Hong Kong protests: Activists plan another airport 'stress test'

Protesters distributing leaflets to passengers during a mass demonstration at the Hong Kong international airport, on Aug 13, 2019.
Protesters distributing leaflets to passengers during a mass demonstration at the Hong Kong international airport, on Aug 13, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

Series of lantern-carrying human chains, sit-ins at various sites slated for Mid-Autumn Festival

HONG KONG • Activists in Hong Kong plan to combine their pro-democracy protests with the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations this weekend, targeting various places, including the airport and shopping malls at train stations.

The protest schedule includes another in a series of "stress tests" of the airport, which in recent weeks has seen the blocking of approach roads, street fires and the trashing of a nearby subway station.

Protesters also jammed the airport arrivals hall last month, leading to cancelled or delayed flights and clashes with the police.

The Hong Kong Airport Authority obtained an injunction last month which gives it the right to clear protesters, except for those in designated areas.

Activists also plan to gather outside the British consulate on Sunday to demand that China honours the Sino-British Joint Declaration that was signed in 1984, laying out the former British colony's future after its handover to China in 1997.

China says Hong Kong is now its internal affair, while Britain says it has a legal responsibility to ensure China abides by its obligations under the Joint Declaration. Hong Kong returned to China rule under a "one country, two systems" formula that guarantees freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, including an independent legal system.

The unrest was triggered by planned legislation to allow extraditions to China, but has broadened into calls for greater democracy.

For the Mid-Autumn Festival today, protesters have planned a series of lantern-carrying human chains and sit-ins at subway shopping malls and on the scenic Victoria Peak, popular with mainland tour groups, as well as on Lion Rock, separating the New Territories from the Kowloon peninsula.

The police have, meanwhile, denied the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the organiser of the June 16 march with a turnout of two million people, permission for a mass downtown march on Sunday.

 
 
 
 

"In previous marches applied for by CHRF, participants, reporters and police suffered serious injuries," the police said in their refusal letter to the group.

The government is also inclined to cancel a fireworks display, usually held over Victoria Harbour on Oct 1 to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

After assessing the risks amid the protests, the government is likely to cancel the event, broadcaster TVB reported yesterday.

About 100 people from the Defend Hong Kong Campaign held a rally outside the Court of Final Appeal in Central yesterday, waving the Chinese flag and signs that read: "Police arrest people, the courts release people".

These pro-government protesters demanded the resignation of Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, saying judges were too lenient in granting bail to those charged over the anti-government protests, the South China Morning Post reported.

Of the more than 1,300 people arrested since protests erupted in June, at least 191 people have been charged with offences ranging from assaulting police officers to rioting. Among those charged, 164 have been granted bail.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2019, with the headline 'Activists plan another airport 'stress test''. Print Edition | Subscribe