Determined groups of protesters defied a police ban and held demonstrations in multiple areas of Hong Kong, on Saturday, Aug. 31, marking the 13th consecutive weekend of protests in the Asian financial center.
A group of several dozen protesters ignited gasoline bombs and threw rocks outside the Hong Kong Legislative Complex. Another group of protesters in the industrial area of Kowloon Bay also taunted police with rocks and gasoline bombs as they took shelter behind barricades in the streets.
Riot police appeared prepared to confront several of the protests, with hundreds forming regiments and using high-powered water canons to spray water colored with blue dye, a tactic designed to mark protesters for future arrest. Protesters have made an effort to avoid police, by moving from one area of the city to another, as soon as police lines are formed.
Police claim to have arrested more than 900 protesters over the course of the summer. Last week, police arrested Joshua Wong, a 22-year-old activist regarded as one of the pro-democracy movement’s leaders. Wong, whose arrest drew a great deal of publicity, was released on bail Friday, and is believed to have rejoined protests on Saturday.
Protesters are calling for free elections in Hong Kong
Discussion of the controversial China-extradition bill, which originally inspired the protests back in June, has long since passed. The bill was suspended indefinitely and will not be revisited as Hong Kong’s summer legislative calendar has come to a close. Hong Kong protesters now are demanding independence and democratic elections in Hong Kong, something that communist authorities in Beijing are unlikely to allow. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Officer Carrie Lam reaffirmed, this week, that she has no intention of resigning from her post.
As many as 2 million people in Hong Kong have participated in various demonstrations, this summer, protesting against an encroachment by Beijing upon Hong Kong citizens’ freedoms in general. Most of the larger-scale protests have been peaceful. However, a hardened and determined group of protesters, perhaps numbering in the several thousands, have become increasingly violent and confrontational with police during the past two weeks.
Many of the most ardent protesters are relatively young, students and adults in their 20 and 30s. Equipped with hardhats, goggles, and gas masks, many of these protesters have begun wielding sticks and baseball bats to exchange blows with riot police.
Chinese military conduct drills in nearby Shenzhen, but remain removed from protests
Despite moving military troops near the border of neighboring Shenzhen and conducting riot-control drills, China’s regime has refrained from sending troops into Hong Kong to suppress the protests, to date. Display heavy-handed tactics to carry out a military response in the streets of Hong Kong, would almost certainly draw condemnation from the world community.
A military suppression is likely to build near-unanimous support for the protests throughout the region by displaying the very authoritarian encroachment that protesters are fighting against, while placing the city in a state of martial law would bring the city to a standstill, more so than the protests themselves.