Clashes at Hong Kong rally marking 6 months since subway violence

Anti-government protesters setting up roadblocks in Nathan Road in Hong Kong's Kowloon district yesterday.
Anti-government protesters setting up roadblocks in Nathan Road in Hong Kong's Kowloon district yesterday. PHOTO: SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

HONG KONG • Hong Kong police fired tear gas yesterday to disperse hundreds of black-clad protesters, some armed with petrol bombs, during a rally to mark six months since the authorities stormed a subway station and arrested demonstrators.

The latest clashes are among the most violent to roil the city after a period of relative calm following intense anti-government protests that escalated in June last year, with fears over the coronavirus keeping many residents indoors.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in and around Mong Kok district and the Prince Edward subway station, where some of the most fierce violence erupted on Aug 31 last year, when police fired tear gas at protesters throwing petrol bombs.

Some chanted "liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times", while others called for the police force to be disbanded, echoing slogans from earlier demonstrations.

As the number of protesters increased, some set fires in Nathan Road in Kowloon district while others set up roadblocks. Mong Kok subway station was closed.

The scenes brought back images of the clashes that plunged the city into turmoil last year and posed the gravest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Many protesters are angry about what they see as creeping Chinese interference in Hong Kong, which returned to China in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula intended to guarantee freedoms that are not enjoyed on the mainland.

China says it is committed to the arrangement and denies meddling. It has accused foreign governments, including the United States and Britain, of inciting the unrest.

Protesters have called for an independent inquiry into the police force - one of five demands made of the Hong Kong government - amid allegations of excessive force.

Police say they have been restrained in the face of escalating violence.

Over 7,000 people have been arrested during the anti-government protests, many on charges of illegal assembly or rioting, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 01, 2020, with the headline Clashes at Hong Kong rally marking 6 months since subway violence. Subscribe