They started in March as a bottom-up push to block the China-Hong Kong extradition bill. Now, protests in Hong Kong have evolved into something much greater – an all-encompassing battle over Hong Kong’s future.
Protesters’ demands now include the island’s independence and the removal of Beijing’s “puppet”, Carrie Lam – the Hong Kong Chief Executive elected by a mainland China committee.
The following update is part of The Millennial Source’s continuing coverage of the months-long protests, which show no sign of slowing down. For further context, please see our feature article on the current situation in Hong Kong and its implications for Beijing’s One-China policy.
This post contains images and videos that some may find distressing.
All images were captured by passers-by, protest participants and journalists.
21st July 2019 – Sunday
Thousands of anti-government protesters gathered around governmental offices and landmarks in the center of the city, and were charged by police.
Following the police aggression, the following manifesto was released, detailing the complaints that drove thousands to take to the streets of central Hong Kong.
22nd July 2019 – Monday
Violence broke out in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai, Central and Sheung Wan areas. Police shortened the protest route in an attempt to contain the chaos. However, protesters continued to pass the designated endpoint, leading to a standoff between protesters and police.
The same evening, a group of masked assailants assaulted participants in a separate protest at Yuen Long train station, along with passers-by and reporters.
Protesters, who identify themselves by wearing black, journalists (who all wear yellow vests) and ordinary commuters were indiscriminately attacked. The assaults left 45 injured, including a pregnant woman.
Protesters and many other Hong Kongers, who are growing increasingly distrustful of police and civil authorities, remain skeptical as to why it took police more than 30 minutes to respond to the attacks. The fact that the police arrived only a few minutes after the violent mob left the scene has only deepened citizen suspicions. There have also been reports of police hanging up on callers reporting the incident.
Many believe that the attack was organized by Hong Kong Police and Beijing officials, in an attempt to instill fear and curb the ongoing social disruptions on the island.
Pro-Beijing Hong Kong politician Junius Ho found himself in hot water after images surfaced of him shaking hands with one of the white-clad attackers. However, the context of the handshake remains unclear.
In a press conference, Ho distanced himself from the assailants. However, he also suggested that the attacks were justified, stating, “The sinners can be pardoned … defending their home and people.”
Public anger has been widespread across the island since the Yuen Long train station attack.
26th July 2019 – Friday
A few days after the bloodshed at Yuen Long station, airport staff and airline employees joined thousands of protesters at Hong Kong airport. The airport demonstrators hope to raise awareness among international visitors.
On the same day, a pilot on a Cathay Pacific flight ended his public announcement upon landing with, “Hong Kong people, add oil.” This common Chinese phrase is similar to the English exhortation, “Keep the fires burning.”
27th July 2019 – Saturday
Nearly 300,000 Hong Kongers took to the streets on Saturday near Yuen Long, the same area gripped with tensions from the recent train station attacks.
Reports indicated that the new protests came as a direct response to train station attacks.
Shortly after 5 p.m. local time, tear gas was fired by police in attempt to disperse the crowd.
The Yuen Long rally then took a violent turn in the evening. According to reports, police charged into the train station, swinging their batons and spraying pepper spray at the protesters.
The rally ended with at least nine people injured, according to the AFP news agency.
28th July 2019 – Sunday
Demonstrations in central Hong Kong continued on Sunday, with thousands of Hong Kong citizens defying a police ban and marching in the city center. The protest was apparently spontaneous, with the activists deciding where to go based on police responses and activity.
As the protests progressed, some chanted “Shame of black cops, the police knowingly break the law!” Others shouted localist Edward Leung’s 2016 election slogan: “Reclaim Hong Kong, the revolution of our times.”
In attempt to disperse the crowds in Central Hong Kong, police used multiple rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets.
Later on in the evening, protesters were seen setting fire to a cart loaded with recycled cardboard paper, pushing it in the direction of the police.
Water from a firehose was also sprayed at a station exit to keep police out of the station where some protesters took refuge. In response, police directed pepper spray to the protesters inside.
On Monday, Beijing is expected to respond to the social unrest on the island today – the first time it has held a press briefing on city since the handover in 1997.
BONUS – WATCH WHAT GOVERNOR CHRIS PATTEN HAD TO SAY ABOUT BRITAIN HANDING HONG-KONG BACK TO CHINA