The battle for democracy continued as Hong Kongers braced themselves against the police’s firing of rubber bullets, tear gas, and blasted water cannons on Sunday, Sept. 29, being one of the most widespread and violent clashes in over three months of political turmoil.
Protests were ignited by a planned legislation that would have allowed the extradition of suspected criminals to mainland China. The bill, since withdrawn, has seen anti-government riots turn into a broader pro-democracy movement.
Police fired tear gas and water cannon on Saturday evening in an effort to drive away protesters who launched gas bombs and rocks, broke government windows and tossed gasoline bombs at subway exits.
More protests are expected in the run-up to China’s National Day on Oct. 1, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.
Protesters built barricades with carts and trash cans and other debris as they took cover from the tear gas behind umbrellas, while some hurled tear gas canisters back at police.
Police made several arrests after having raised placards warning of retaliation at the crowd before firing tear gas and water cannons.
No immediate reports of serious injuries were made.
“We know that in the face of the world’s largest totalitarian regime—to quote Captain America, ‘Whatever it takes,’” a 21-year-old protester, Justin Leung said regarding the violent methods used by radicals. “The consensus right now is that everyone’s methods are valid and we all do our part.”
“So many youngsters feel that they’re going to have no future because of the power of China,” Andy Yeung, a father aged 40, said. “It’s hopeless for Hong Kong. If we don’t stand up, there will be no hope.”
The crowd responded to organizer Innes Tang’s invitation on social media to “promote positivity and patriotism.”
“We want to take this time for the people to express our love for our country China. We want to show the international community that there is another voice to Hong Kong” apart from the protests, Tang said.
Chief Executive of Hong Kong Carrie Lam, is reported to be leaving for Beijing on Monday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic.
Lam, the focus of the anti-government unrest, was trapped in an indoor stadium by street protests for hours this week after an “open dialogue” with Hong Kong citizens and is set to return to Hong Kong on Tuesday night.
The protesters were enraged about existing Chinese interference in Hong Kong, which Britain returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula, which guarantees freedoms that are not enjoyed on the mainland, Reuters reports.
But China dismisses the accusation and has blamed foreign governments, including the United States and Britain, of fanning anti-China sentiment, the report says.