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Hong Kong rally cut short by police tear gas

Face-off: Police running towards protesters on Nathan road in Hong Kong on Sunday

Face-off: Police running towards protesters on Nathan road in Hong Kong on Sunday   | Photo Credit: AFP

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Protesters marched to the U.S. Consulate to thank Trump for supporting their cause by passing a law

In the largest of three rallies in Hong Kong on Sunday, a key thoroughfare was packed with demonstrators, from hardened masked protesters to families and the elderly. They chanted “Five demands, not one less” and “Disband the police force” as they marched.

That rally followed two other marches earlier on Sunday as protesters sought to keep the pressure on city leader Carrie Lam after the recent win by the pro-democracy camp in district council elections and the gaining of U.S. support for their cause.

“If we don’t walk out, the government will say it’s just a youth issue, but this is a Hong Kong problem that affects all of us,” Lily Chau, 30, said as she pushed her toddler in a stroller at the march in Kowloon. “If we are scared, the government will continue to trample on our rights.”

Police estimated that 16,000 people attended the Kowloon rally.

‘Minimum force used’

The Kowloon march was cut short after riot police fired tear gas and arrested a few people. A police statement said minimum force was deployed after “hundreds of rioters hurled smoke bombs” and bricks.

Marchers berated police as they scrambled to flee the tear gas, shouting “Dirty cops” and “Are you trying to kill us?” Some protesters dug up paving stones and threw them on the street to try to slow the police down.

More tear gas was fired at night after dozens of hardcore protesters set up roadblocks and vandalised some shops and restaurants linked to China.

Tensions started on Saturday night after police used pepper balls against protesters and a man was hit in the head by an unidentified assailant while clearing the street.

Only one demand met

Ms. Lam has said she’ll accelerate dialogue but has refused to offer any new concessions since the elections. Her government has accepted only one demand: withdrawing extradition legislation that would have sent suspects to mainland China for trial.

Elaine Wong, an office worker who was at the Kowloon march, called the recent election win “an empty victory.” “We have in actual fact not won any concessions for our demands,” she said. “We must continue to stand out to remind the government of our unhappiness.”

The two earlier marches on Sunday appealed to President Donald Trump for help and demanded that police stop using tear gas.

Waving American flags, black-clad protesters marched to the U.S. Consulate to thank Mr. Trump for signing into law last week legislation supporting their cause and urged him to swiftly sanction Lam and other officials for suppressing human rights.

Some held banners reading “Let’s make Hong Kong great again” — a riff on Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign pledge to make America great again. One showed him standing atop a tank with “Trump” emblazoned on the front and side.

In Geneva, China accused the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, of emboldening “radical violence” in Hong Kong.

In an opinion piece published in Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper, Ms. Bachelet called for an “independent and impartial judge-led investigation into reports of excessive use of force by the police.”

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 10:32:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/hong-kong-rally-cut-short-by-police-tear-gas/article30131781.ece

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