HONG KONG: Anti-government protests entered their ninth consecutive week in Hong Kong on Sunday as both protesters and police escalated their tactics in the ongoing stand-off.
Protesters held multiple fronts throughout the day, with a march on the Kowloon peninsula followed by smaller-scale guerrilla-style demonstrations on Hong Kong island.
In a new tactic seen in recent days, groups of protesters would arrive at a location and demonstrate, building barricades to keep back police and spray painting slogans on the footpath before vanishing into the underground system to a new location decided over social media.
Riot police fired tear gas on one group of protesters at China’s government headquarters in Hong Kong. The building, which represents Beijing in the semi-autonomous Chinese city, has been the site of numerous clashes over the past nine weeks.
Protests began on June 9 against a now-suspended bill that would have allowed for the extradition of suspected criminals to mainland China. They have since escalated into an outpouring of anger against the Hong Kong government and its Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Lam has failed to meet any of the protesters’ demands including that she step down and form an independent commission to investigate police brutality. Protesters say they will carry on until their demands are met.
“There’s a lot of things we are fighting for... at this point we are hoping the Hong Kong government will listen to our concerns without saying they are listening but really doing nothing about it,” protester Jessie Ho said.
Protester Wendy Wong said many were drawn by the fact the “government didn’t respond to anything” the protesters have asked for in recent weeks — an often-heard phrase amongst protesters who feel frustrated at leader Lam’s inability to meet them halfway.
In another new tactic from protesters, a city-wide strike has been called for Monday that is expected to see thousands participate, according to organisers.
Police, meanwhile, have continued to arrest protesters en masse and have threatened to deploy water cannon to control crowds of protesters.
Separately in Taipei, about 500 activists, students, and Hong Kongers living in Taiwan marched on the streets outside the parliament building in the capital city to support the coming strike on Monday.
They shouted slogans and carried placards that said “Defend Human Rights! Support Hong Kong! Protect Democracy!”
Outside a church nearby, “Lennon Walls” were also created for people to express their support to Hong Kong protesters.
Dozens of such walls have sprung up in Hong Kong as well as in other cities around the world in support of the protests, containing post-it notes and slogans of encouragement.
“On the eve of the strike, we want to voice our support for the Hong Kong protesters,” said Chiu E-ling, secretary-general of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights.
Chiu called on the Hong Kong government to stop its violent suppression of the protests and address protesters’ core demands, which include a permanent withdrawal of the controversial extradition bill, an independent investigation into police behaviour and others. — dpa