China’s state-owned Xinhua News Agency warned in an editorial, “The end is coming for those attempting to disrupt Hong Kong and antagonize China.” What began as peaceful protests on the 13th consecutive weekend on the streets of Hong Kong turned violent as tens of thousands of protesters defied a police ban to march. Riot police showered them with blue dye, making it easy to identify them later. Officials aren’t ruling out imposing emergency law to help police contain the protesters, many of whom are young and passionate about creating changes for Hong Kong.
“We are reviewing comprehensively with an open attitude on what could be used,” Matthew Cheung, the No. 2 official in Hong Kong told reporters on Monday, Sept 2. “Once calm’s restored, society’s back to normal, then we can go forward,” Cheung said, as reported by Bloomberg. “Law and order must be restored ASAP, without further ado. No nonsense. We are all yearning for law and order.”
Aug. 31 marked the fifth anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s refusal to allow free elections in Hong Kong, and an application by protesters to have a march in commemoration of that day was refused, refueling anger against the regime.The rally began peacefully, as they gathered outside government offices and the Legislative Assembly.
Thousands carried umbrellas and marched in the pouring rain over the weekend, wearing protective face masks against any perceived action from the riot police. The protesters allegedly began throwing gasoline bombs and bricks at barricades, with riot police firing tear gas, using pepper spray, and beating protesters, with online videos showing the violence police used against them. Protesters began to disrupt transport services, with trains delayed and flights canceled.
Police had erected barricades around buildings and created roadblocks, and as protesters attempted to storm the barriers they fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons on the crowd. The water was stained with a blue dye—this would allow police to identify the protesters later, and make arrests.
At least 63 people— 54 men and nine women were arrested at train stations on Saturday evening, with 40 people arrested at Prince Edward metro station, Eric, a 22-year-old student, told Reuters news agency: “Telling us not to protest is like telling us not to breathe. I feel it’s my duty to fight for democracy. Maybe we win, maybe we lose, but we fight.”
The protests, which began in earnest in June in opposition to Beijing’s proposal to allow extradition to China, putting many dissidents at risk of incarceration. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam agreed to suspend the bill, however, protesters will not rest until it is completely removed.
During the 24-hour crackdown, three activists and three lawmakers were arrested. Wong, a prominent campaigner was released on bail after his arrest, “Organizing protests, having assembly on [the] street is the fundamental right of [the] Hong Kong people. … People will still gather on [the] street and urge President Xi [Jinping] and Beijing [that] it’s time to listen to people’s voice,” he said as reported by the BBC.
Beijing has called the protesters actions “close to terrorism,” and there is a concern the CCP is gearing up toward using troops against them. Since the protests began in June, around 900 have been arrested, with many pro-democracy activists and lawmakers being targeted.