Hong Kong gears up for another day of protests as thousands gather |
HONG KONG, June 13 — Thousands of protesters readied in Hong Kong today for more potential clashes with police over a planned extradition law with mainland China, a day after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at unarmed demonstrators.
Small scuffles broke out between police and demonstrators around the city’s legislature, the epicentre of the violence, while some protesters rushed to stop police from removing supplies of face masks and food.
Uniformed police with helmets and shields blocked overhead walkways, while a long row of police vans was parked nearby. Plainclothes police officers checked commuters’ identity papers.
Schoolchildren joined the steadily growing crowd, which swelled to a few thousand by midday, from around 20 early in the day.
“We are ready to have a protracted war with the government,” said one protester, Natalie Wong. “I am young, that’s why I have to fight for Hong Kong.”
The extradition bill, which will cover Hong Kong residents and foreign and Chinese nationals living or travelling through the city, has sparked concerns it may threaten the rule of law that underpins Hong Kong’s international financial status.
The legislature remained closed, with the council issuing a notice that the group’s meeting would not be held today.
Authorities have shut government offices in the financial district for the rest of the week after some of the worst violence in Hong Kong since Britain handed it back to Chinese rule in 1997.
Yesterday, police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray in a series of skirmishes to clear demonstrators from the legislature, with officials saying 72 people had been admitted to hospital by 10pm.
It was the third night of violence since a protest on Sunday drew what organisers said was more than a million people in the biggest street demonstration since the 1997 handover.
Several thousand demonstrators stayed until the early hours of morning near the legislature in the Admiralty district, while thousands more retreated to the Central business district, overlooked by the towers of some of Asia’s biggest firms and hotel chains, including HSBC and AIA. — Reuters