Hong Kong’s airport was expected to be targeted on Saturday morning for a second time this month, but plans to block transport going to and from the airport didn’t come to fruition.
To forestall issues, Hong Kong’s Airport Authority had warned in a statement Friday that blocking roads connecting to the airport may constitute unlawfully obstructing the airport, meaning anyone who does so could be subject to imprisonment or a fine. It also placed ads in local papers Friday, encouraging young people to love and protect the airport.
“We sincerely call for all young people who love Hong Kong in their heart not to participate in or support any action that disrupts the airport’s normal operation or damages the airport’s international image,” the ads read, adding that airport disruption could lead to the unemployment of around 100,000 people who depend on the airport to make a living.
This weekend’s protests come after a week of relative calm in Hong Kong, which has seen numerous clashes between protesters and police over the course of the movement.
On Friday, Hong Kong police said there were elements of the protest movement that were “not peaceful.” Three to four senior police officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said officers’ personal information was being shared in an anti-police group with over 100,000 members on encrypted app Telegram.
They called the tactic “a kind of psychological war,” and said they had arrested 16 people on suspicion of disclosing personal data without consent and causing harm, and unauthorized access to a computer.
They also defended the force’s use of plain-clothes policemen, saying they were being used to target some “radical violent elements.”
But at Friday’s human chain, many protesters insisted that the movement was peaceful, and rejected police’s depiction of them as violent.
“(The government) are saying we aren’t peaceful protesters, they just make up a story. Some people really believe that. They try to attack us. Sometimes it’s devastating,” said Felix Wong, 33, who began to cry as she explained how upset she was by the government’s stance.
“I know a lot of people just like me, we see the news and read some articles, we just break into tears easily these two to three months,” she said.
The wider picture
Beyond the battles between police and protesters, there has also been concern for how the ongoing protests are affecting the city’s economy.
Last week, Hong Kong’s property billionaires and the city’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, affirmed their support for the government and called for calm in the streets.
The Canadian Consulate in Hong Kong has suspended all work travel to mainland China for local staff. A government source who was close to the decision-making said they believed the move to be a prudent precaution at this time.
No sign of ending
For now, there’s no sign that the protests are ending.
Carmen, a 38-year-old lawyer at Friday’s protests, described herself as a “recent convert” to the movement — she was pro-establishment before she joined the protests for the first time this month, inspired by the passion she was seeing among the city’s young people. She wore a surgical face mask to protect her identity, and would not give her full name for fear of retribution from the police.
Fellow protester Spencer, a 33-year-old hotel worker who was also wearing a face mask and would not give his full name for the same reason, said he hoped the protests would end with city leader Carrie Lam responding to the protesters’ demands.
“Why is she making us come out every day, every night, every weekend — we have no normal Sundays anymore because of these events,” he said. “But we have to come out and stand for ourselves, or else we are going to lose our home.”
CNN’s Ezra Cheung, Michelle Toh and Maisy Mok contributed to this report.
Source : Nbcnewyork