As Hong Kong Protesters March in Unauthorized Rally, Police Ratchet Up Tactics

By Nicole Hao

The 17th consecutive weekend of protests in Hong Kong brought more violent clashes between police and protesters, as the latter commemorated the fifth-year anniversary of the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement and marched in an unauthorized demonstration in solidarity with global supporters.

Hong Kong police tried to disperse protesters by firing water cannon, tear gas, and “less lethal” weapons on Sept. 29, with at least one journalist and one protester reportedly injured in the eye by police.

Parade

Hong Kong protesters agreed to march at around 2:30 p.m. from the SOHO entertainment district of Causeway Bay to the central government complex in Admiralty, a distance of about 2.2 kilometers (1.37 miles). They did not seek police approval for the demonstration.

Before the starting time, about a thousand police officers arrived in the SOHO neighborhood, and fired eight tear gas canisters to disperse protesters.

Soon after, police clashed with protesters on Hennessy Road close to the central government complex, firing tear gas in a busy district. Some protesters picked up the canisters and threw them back at the police. Local Epoch Times reporters witnessed several protesters being arrested, including elderly and a person in a wheelchair.

Protesters marched nonetheless.

At the head of the parade, about 20 Hongkongers held national flags from different countries, signaling their hope for international support.

They also held a poster signifying the Chinese Communist Party as a grim reaper dressed in a red robe, carrying a sickle covered in fresh blood. The spirit is depicted knocking on the doors of “the world,” as the doors of Tibet, Uyghurs, and Hong Kong are left askew, with blood on the floor.

Police Actions

In the city’s main hubs of Wan Chai, Central, and Causeway Bay, police clashed with protesters at different locations throughout the afternoon and evening.

At Harcourt Road, locals captured video footage of what appears to be protesters approaching a group of riot police. When the riot police confronted the protesters, one of the officers shouted loudly:  “They’re one of us,” leading many to believe the protesters were in fact undercover police.

The police force has previously admitted at press conferences that they have undercover police dressed as protesters—who often dress in all black attire and wear facial or gas masks—to gather intelligence and make arrests.

At Wan Chai, a local Epoch Times reporter witnessed the moment when several protesters found out that several in their contingent were in fact undercover police and began to attack the officers. Suddenly, one of the undercover officers took out his service weapon and aimed it at protesters. In one video captured by local media Stand News, a gunshot can be heard, followed by protesters scurrying away.

At Gloucester Road, a female journalist situated near an Epoch Times reporter was hit by an object at about 5 p.m. The wound on her right eye and forehead suggested that she could have been hit by a police rubber bullet or bean-bag round.

The wounded reporter works for an Indonesian-language publication based in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the campus news outlet of Hong Kong University shared a video of a male protester injured in his left eye, which left him bleeding as he lay on the ground while being detained by riot police. The campus outlet reported that police did not allow him to receive first aid.

13 were hospitalized in the clashes on Sunday, according to the city’s Hospital Authority.

At Causeway Bay, local lawmaker Chu Hoi-dick tried to negotiate with police to refrain from using violence on protesters. A riot police officer standing behind the main negotiator suddenly aimed a pepper spray canister and sprayed it directly at Chu’s face.

Opposition to Beijing’s encroaching influence on city affairs has led to weekly protests in Hong Kong since June.

Although the city’s leader Carrie Lam in early September announced that the government would withdraw the extradition bill that triggered the mass protests, this has not assuaged protesters’ concerns. They have continued to come out en masse to demand an independent investigation into police use of force, and universal suffrage in the city’s elections.

At Admiralty, protesters also took apart billboards that touted the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Chinese communist regime’s founding. They then burned them on the streets.

Reuters reported that protesters also hurled petrol bombs into a metro station and set fires on train tracks, which caused a temporary suspension of train services. The transit authority MTR has been the subject of protesters’ ire after it recently began suspending services during protester events.

A Global Action

People in more than 20 countries initiated a campaign, Global Solidarity With Hong Kong, and organized “anti-totalitarianism rallies” in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Netherland, Switzerland, U.K., Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Estonia, Ukraine, Canada, and the United States over the weekend.

In Taiwan, apart from rallies in small cities throughout the island, locals organized a large rally in the capital of Taipei. Though there was heavy rain in the afternoon, roughly 100,000 people participated, according to organizers.

Denise Ho, a Hong Kong singer and activist, also attended the Taipei rally. She was splashed with red paint by someone disguised as a Hong Kong protester as she was being interviewed by local media.

She then said: “This [paint] represents the quality of pro-Beijing people. Actually we face this kind of threat everyday when we are in Hong Kong… This is [Beijing’s] suppression and intimidation. We Hongkongers are not afraid.”

Angry Protesters 

“Being ‘peaceful’ and ‘rational’ means attending rallies, but police have become more and more aggressive, so we have to use some force to protect the peaceful protesters,” 22-year-old protester Ah Lok told The Epoch Times on Sept. 28.

On Saturday evening, around 200,000 to 300,000 showed up for a rally at Tamar Park near the government headquarters to mark the fifth anniversary of the Umbrella Movement, according to event organizer Civil Human Rights Front.

The 2014 protests saw activists occupying key thoroughfares in downtown Hong Kong for 79 days to demand that the city’s leader to be elected by universal suffrage. The movement ended with the government making no concessions to the protesters’ demands.

Police also deployed tear gas and a water cannon to disperse protesters.

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