HONG KONG PROTESTS
The streets of Hong Kong have been consumed by chaos and destruction since the anti-government movement sprang into life in June. Hard-core protesters have locked horns with riot police and those with opposing political views in often violent clashes.
The spiralling crisis, sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill, has also seen the transport system paralysed and businesses with mainland China links attacked, while the government continues to refuse to cede to all five demands from protesters. Meanwhile, the campaign juggernaut can still draw hundreds of thousands of peaceful marchers, six months after the first mass display of defiance.
The protests claimed the first known fatality when a university student succumbed to his injuries after falling from a car park near the site of a police dispersal operation. A vocational student was shot by police with a live round at point-blank range while across town on the same day a man was set ablaze following a heated argument with pro-democracy protesters.
By the first week of December, police had fired over 10,000 canisters of tear gas at protesters along with more than 4,000 rounds of rubber bullets and more than a dozen live rounds. Some 5,000 arrests have been made. Meanwhile, numerous projectiles have been hurled at police, including corrosive liquid and at least 350 petrol bombs.
The first police-approved march and rally from the Civil Human Rights Front since August drew hundreds of thousands to the streets. It followed a relatively peaceful start to December in the wake of the pro-democracy camp's surge in the polls on November 24.
There were two weeks of relative calm towards the end of November when the district council elections took centre stage and the pan-democracy camp swept to a landslide victory. This was in stark contrast to the beginning of the month when a fresh round of outrage, protests and violence was sparked by the news that university undergraduate Chow Tsz-lok had died after falling from a car park, near to confrontations between police and protesters.
On October 1, China’s 70th National Day celebrations were overshadowed by shocking unrest unfolding in Hong Kong. A schoolboy was shot in the chest with a live round and 1,400 rounds of tear gas were deployed by police to disperse crowds. Protesters were banned from wearing face masks, triggering a fresh wave of violence.
At least 42mm of street railings were taken apart during the first four months of anti-government protests. Protesters take railings from the pavement, secure them with cable ties and use them as roadblocks.
Carrie Lam announced the formal withdrawal of the anti-extradition bill following three months of clashes between protesters and police. The number of clashes reduced slightly but violence intensified as disruptions continued throughout the city.
One of the most violent months of this year’s protests, August saw a general strike and police firing live rounds for the first time. There was major disruption to the MTR network and airport with over 1,000 flights cancelled as protesters descend on the world travel hub.
Protesters stormed the Legislative Council complex, clashes spread over the harbour to Kowloon and riot police clashed with protesters inside a shopping mall as the summer of discontent continued. In Yuen Long a group of masked white-clad men wielding iron and wooden bars attacked protesters, journalists and passengers inside the MTR station, injuring at least 45.
This month’s protests had the highest attendances. The marches were generally peaceful but often became violent after they had finished.
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