Hong Kong protests escalate after candlelight vigil marking death of student Chow Tsz-lok





Posted

November 09, 2019 13:26:16

Candlelight Hong Kong vigils mourning a student who died during pro-democracy protests quickly spiralled into street fires, bursts of tear gas and cat-and-mouse clashes between pro-democracy protesters and police.

Key points:

  • Chow Tsz-lok died days after falling between floors at a parking lot
  • Students and friends of Mr Chow led protests condemning alleged police brutality
  • Police were forced to use a robot to detonate a suspected explosive device

Chow Tsz-lok died on Friday after a fall at a building earlier in the week.

The centre of violence was on Nathan Road, in the Kowloon district of Mong Kok, one of the most densely populated locations in the world, where activists built barricades and trashed an entrance to a metro station.

Police used a robot to detonate a suspected explosive device after at least three blasts in the area amid a standoff with petrol bomb-throwing protesters.

Police fired tear gas there and in Tseung Kwan O, to the east of the Kowloon peninsula, where the student Mr Chow fell from the third to the second floor of a parking lot in the early hours of Monday.

Mr Chow, 22, who studied at the University of Science and Technology (UST), fell as protesters were being dispersed by police.

He died on Friday — graduation day for many UST students. His death is likely to fuel anger at police, who are under pressure over accusations of excessive force as the former British colony grapples with its worst political crisis in decades.

Police denied they played any part in Mr Chow’s death, saying officers were not in the carpark when he fell.

UST students trashed a campus branch of Starbucks, part of a franchise perceived to be pro-Beijing, and rallies are expected across the territory over the weekend.

“Condemn police brutality,” they wrote on the restaurant’s glass wall.

Hundreds of students, most in masks and carrying candles, then lined up in silence at UST to lay white flowers in tribute.

Thousands also left flowers at the spot where Mr Chow fell at the car park, occasionally singing hymns.

In the shopping district of Causeway Bay, hundreds lined the streets in silence, with the eerie hum of the city in the background.

Then the mood changed.

People started shouting abuse at “black police”, referring to perceived brutality, and blocked streets in Causeway Bay.

In Mong Kok, dozens of activists barricaded off Nathan Road, which leads south to the harbour, and vandalised a closed metro entrance, throwing bricks, there they also destroyed a phone booth in a small explosion.

In Tseung Kwan O, where people had been leaving flowers and silently crying for hours, people screamed encouragement and abuse after a traffic light was set on fire.

Mr Chow’s friend and fellow UST student, Ben, 25, said the computer science undergraduate liked playing netball and basketball.

“We played netball together for a year,” he said while crying.

“I hope he can rest in peace. I really miss him.”

How the chaos began

Students and young people have been at the forefront of the hundreds of thousands who have taken to the streets since June to seek greater democracy, among other demands, and rally against perceived Chinese meddling in the Asian financial hub.

The protests were ignited by a now-scrapped extradition bill allowing people to be sent to mainland China for trial, but have evolved into wider calls for democracy. They pose one of the biggest challenges for Chinese President Xi Jinping since he took charge in 2012.

Since June, protesters have thrown petrol bombs and vandalised banks, stores and metro stations. Police have fired rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons and, in some cases, live ammunition.

In June, Marco Leung, 35, fell to his death from construction scaffolding after unfurling banners against the extradition bill. Several young people who have taken their own lives have been linked to the protests. Mr Chow was the first person to die during crowd dispersal operations.

The university called for an independent investigation into Mr Chow’s death, saying an ambulance was blocked by police cars and ambulance officers had to walk to the scene, causing a delay of 20 minutes.

The government expressed “great sorrow and regret”. A police spokeswoman, tears in her eyes, said officers would find out the truth as soon as possible and urged the public to be “calm and rational”.

Police have denied blocking an ambulance. The car park said it would release CCTV footage as soon as possible.

Protests scheduled over the weekend include rallies in shopping malls, some of which have previously descended into chaos as riot police stormed areas crowded with families and children.

Last weekend, anti-government protesters crowded a shopping mall in running clashes with police that saw a man slash people with a knife and bite off part of the ear of a local politician.

Reuters/ABC

Topics:

unrest-conflict-and-war,

law-crime-and-justice,

crime,

police,

government-and-politics,

world-politics,

hong-kong



Source link

About the Author

Australia News
More Than 20 Years in News and jobs

Be the first to comment on "Hong Kong protests escalate after candlelight vigil marking death of student Chow Tsz-lok"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*


%d bloggers like this: