At the start of a three-day protest in Hong Kong, hundreds of protesters gathered in the airport arrivals hall on Friday. They handed travelers leaflets criticizing the government.
The partially masked and helmeted demonstrators held up banners and tried in a dozen languages to draw the travelers’ attention to the conflict that had been going on for weeks. “Dear travelers, please forgive us for Hong Kong”, it was said in English, for example.
“They ended up in a broken, tattered city, not the one you knew so far. But we are fighting for this Hong Kong.” With regard to the travelers at the airport, a protester said: “We want to let more people know what’s happening in Hong Kong.”
No police presence yet
The three-day airport rally was announced in online networks with a fake boarding pass on which “HK in Freedom” stood. Arriving passengers seemed irritated at the sight of the sit-down strike, some took pictures and handed themselves leaflets.
Initially, no major police force was on display. “There will be a peaceful protest as long as the police does not show up,” said a 16-year-old demonstrant. A passenger from Taiwan welcomed the rally, even though his flight was canceled: “This is important. Today it is Hong Kong, tomorrow Taiwan.”
According to information from Reuters, former police chief Alan Lau Yip Shing, who oversaw missions against pro-democracy rallies in 2014, was retired. He is said to have helped, according to two senior security officials to coordinate the operations against protesters. He would meet on Friday with the chiefs, it was said.
Problem for China
The continuing protests, which are increasingly causing clashes between protesters and the police, are also increasingly becoming a problem for Chinese President Xi Jinping. Because the demonstrations have ignited plans of the Beijing-loyal government for a law to extradite the accused to China.
Since mid-June, they are expanding. A climax reached the protests on Monday with a general strike. It came to clashes with the police, who used tear gas and batons.
After the transfer to China in 1997, the former British Crown Colony of Hong Kong was granted special freedoms such as freedom of expression. These see the government critics now at risk.
The protesters call for the resignation of Prime Minister Carrie Lam and also that the government is not in turmoil in connection with the largely peaceful demonstrations. Hong Kong law refers to an unauthorized assembly of three or more people.
Lam refused concessions to the democracy activists in front of journalists on Friday. In her search for a “political solution” in dealing with the protests that had been going on for weeks, she did not consider a compromise the right way, she said.
She spoke of “violent demonstrators”. Lam warned of a rapid and massive economic “decline” from the protests, which she indirectly compared to a “tsunami”.
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