Hong Kong protesters rally in airport arrivals hall
Demonstrators crowded the arrivals hall at Hong Kong airport on Friday, handing out anti-government leaflets and waving banners in a dozen languages in a bid to raise awareness among visitors ahead of weekend rallies planned across the city.
About a thousand protesters, mostly young and wearing black T-shirts, held a sit-in and distributed flyers headlined “Dear travellers” above artwork depicting the protests since June that have plunged the financial hub into its biggest crisis since returning to China from British rule in 1997.
“Please forgive us for the ‘unexpected’ Hong Kong,” the English leaflets read.“You’ve arrived in a broken, torn-apart city, not the one you have once pictured. Yet for this Hong Kong, we fight”.
The increasingly violent protests pose one of the gravest challenges yet to Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
What started as an angry response to a now-suspended law that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited for trial in Chinese courts has grown to include demands for greater democracy, the resignation of Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam, and even keeping out mainland tourists.
The crowd at the airport filled two chambers of the arrivals hall. Protesters sang Do You Hear the People Sing? from the musical Les Miserables .
The airport demonstration came as the city’s powerful property developers spoke out for the first time, urging calm after a dozen big companies warned in recent days that the unrest had dented earnings.
“The Hong Kong community has been suffering from the acts of violence perpetrated by a small group of individuals lately,” said a statement signed by 17 developers, including Henderson Land Development, New World Development 0017.HK, and Sun Hung Kai Properties.
“Such acts have deviated from the original intent of the peaceful demonstrations and are bringing distress to the business community,” it said.
There was no sign of a police presence at the airport by late Friday afternoon.“It will be a peaceful protest as long as the police do not show up,” one protester, Charlotte Lam, 16, told Reuters.
“We have made stickers, banners in over 16 languages, ranging from Japanese to Spanish. We want to spread our message internationally. We are not rioters, we are a group of Hong Kong people fighting for human rights and freedom,” she said.
Hong Kong has recalled from retirement a police commander who oversaw the response to pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014 to help deal with the latest protests, suggesting a lack of confidence in the current leadership.
Former deputy police commissioner Alan Lau Yip-shing will handle large-scale public order events, including activities to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1. Reuters