Hong Kong riot cops forced to withdraw after democracy protesters copy ‘Don’t shoot’ gesture used by US demonstrators after a police officer shot an unarmed black teenager
Chinese riot police were forced into an embarrassing back down today as they withdrew from the streets of Hong Kong amid fury over their heavy-handed use of tear gas to disperse anti-democracy protesters.
Tens of thousands of people, mainly students, have brought central Hong Kong to a standstill, blocking roads and forcing the closure of banks and schools, in a major pushback against Beijing’s decision to limit democratic reforms.
However the Chinese government has refused to budge on the issue, warning other countries not to support the ‘illegal rallies’, as demonstrators demanded that Britain and the U.S. ‘stand up for democracy’.
The UK has called for the right to protest to be protected and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it is concerned about the tense standoff.
‘Hands up, don’t shoot’: Protesters have responded to the government’s use of tear gas by using the ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ gesture first employed by demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri, last month as they marched over the police shooting of unarmed black teenager Mike Brown
Solidarity: As a show of defiance this evening, the protesters turned on the lights on their mobile phones and held them in the air in central Hong Kong
Reaction: Police have turned to softer tactics today in an attempt to quell the protests, after their use o tear gas drew thousands more on to the streets
Defiant: Protesters block the main street to the financial Central district, outside the government headquarters
Peaceful: The Occupy Central movement say they will remain in Hong Kong’s finance district until their demands for greater democratic freedoms are met
Scuffles: Protesters have accused the police of using heavy-handed tactics to break up the demonstration, but authorities say 12 police have been injured
There were fears that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army could become involved, echoing the crackdown on protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989 which ended with the massacre of several hundred people, but Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying has denied this.
The uprising is fast becoming known as the ‘Umbrella Revolution’ due to the fact that protesters are using little more than parasols to protect themselves against the volleys of tear gas being fired at them by police – in an unprecedented crack down on dissent – leaving many choking under thick clouds of toxic vapour.
The protesters yesterday adopted the ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ gesture, first employed last month by demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri, as they marched over the police shooting of unarmed black teenager Mike Brown. There, the gesture became a symbol of the fight against racism and police violence in America.
In response, the Chinese government announced that riot police had been taken off the streets as citizens ‘have mostly calmed down’ and urged people to unblock roads and disperse.
Sit in: The students, who have been occupying Hing Kong’s finance district since yesterday, are preparing to spend another night on the streets today
We shall not be moved: The activists are demanding a free vote in upcoming elections in Hon Kong, which they fear are being heavily influenced by Beijing
Settled in: Around 100,000 students are camping out in the middle of Hong Kong tonight ahead of a public holiday tomorrow
Protection: The protests are being dubbed the ‘umbrella revolution’ after activists used umbrellas to protect themselves against tear gas and pepper spray
Gas: A protester wearing goggles, a mask and carrying an umbrella protects himself against tear gas, which has been used for the first time in nearly a decade
Defence: The protesters, mostly students, have come equipped with goggles, anoraks and face masks to protect themselves against tear gar and pepper spray
Instead, the government switched its focus to social media, banning Instagram across the country in a further bid to stifle dissent in the Asian financial hub.
The popular photo-sharing service was shut down today in an apparent attempt to prevent demonstrators sharing photographs of the upheaval with their countrymen, as they expanded their rallies throughout Hong Kong.
Many photos already posted on the image-sharing website – labelled under the hashtag #OccupyCentral, a phrase officials went on to block from Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.
The social media crack down comes as police officers tried to negotiate with protesters, some wearing surgical masks and holding up umbrellas to protect against tear gas, camped out on a normally busy highway near the Hong Kong government headquarters that was the scene of impassioned clashes that erupted the evening before.
An officer with a bullhorn tried to get them to clear the way for the commuters. A protester, using the group’s own speaker system, responded by saying that they wanted Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to demand a genuine choice for the territory’s voters.
Barricade: An activist wrapped in clingfilm to shield himself stands beside a barricade in Hong Kong’s financial district during a second day of protests yesterday
Sit in: Thousands of students gathered together in a ‘sit in’ to block main roads of a popular fashion district in Hong Kong
Appropriation: Protesters in Hong Kong have appropriated the gesture, which came to symbolise the fight against racism and police violence in America, as a symbol of democracy and freedom
Toxic fumes: Fury continues to grow over the police’s heavy-handed attempts to disperse protesters, including the widespread use of tear gas
Their use of the gesture has been hailed as a sign of how ‘plugged in’ to world affairs Hong Kongers are despite the mainland government’s attempts to stifle social media and other information-gathering tools
Resistance: Thousands of protesters are still gathered in Hong Kong’s financial district despite police throwing tear gas at them and launching a baton charge
Heavy-handed: Many photos already posted on the image-sharing website – labelled under the hashtag #OccupyCentral – show police firing tear gas canisters into crowds leaving protesters choking under thick clouds of toxic vapour
Face off: Protesters parade a large cut out of the head of C.Y. Leung in the streets outside the Hong Kong government complex
‘Do something good for Hong Kong. We want real democracy!’ he shouted.
As the mayhem continued, London-based banks HSBC and Standard Chartered were today forced to shut bank branches in Hong Kong as the territory’s political unrest spills into the financial markets as the Hang Seng stock market to fall 2 per cent to a two-month low.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Office confirmed it is carefully monitoring the situation with a spokesman saying the British Government was ‘concerned’ about the events there and highlighted people’s right to protest.
Banned: The popular photo-sharing service was shut down today in an apparent attempt to prevent demonstrators sharing photographs of the upheaval with their countrymen
Crack down: The social media crack down comes as pro-democracy protesters, some wearing surgical masks and holding up umbrellas to protect against tear gas, expanded their rallies throughout Hong Kong today
Rest time: The unrest is a major pushback against Beijing’s decision to limit democratic reforms in the Asian financial hub
Protesters rest following pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. China has called the protests illegal and endorsed the Hong Kong government’s crackdown
Nap time: Policemen rest following pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong after tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought parts of central Hong Kong to a standstill in a dramatic escalation of protests that have gripped the semi-autonomous Chinese city for days
Respite: Demonstrators take a break from the action, as they sleep in the streets outside Hong Kong Government’s complex
Plugged in: Student protesters connect their mobile phones to chargers during the sit-in protest calling for greater democracy
He went on: ‘It is Britain’s long-standing position, as a co-signatory of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, that Hong Kong’s prosperity and security are underpinned by its fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to demonstrate.
‘It is important for Hong Kong to preserve these rights and for Hong Kong people to exercise them within the law.
‘These freedoms are best guaranteed by the transition to universal suffrage.
‘We hope that the upcoming consultation period will produce arrangements which allow a meaningful advance for democracy in Hong Kong, and we encourage all parties to engage constructively in discussion to that end.’
Hands up: Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, adopted the ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ gesture after claims Mike Brown had his arms in the air when he was shot by a police officer in the city
Defiance: The clashes – images of which have been beamed around the world – are undermining Hong Kong’s image as a safe financial haven, and raised the stakes of the face-off against President Xi Jinping’s government
Anger: Beijing has taken a hard line against threats to the Communist Party’s monopoly on power, including clamping down on dissidents and Muslim Uighur separatists in the country’s far west
Force: The authorities have threatened to increase their use of force if the student activists, who are demanding democratic elections, do not disperse
Disruption: The protest marks the end of a week of activities which has become the worst unrest in Hong Kong since Britain handed the province back to China
Hong Kong police rained tear gas on thousands of pro-democracy protesters in the city’s financial district today as tensions over the island’s democratic rights grow
Gas: Officers used tear gas to break up the protest for the first time in Hong Kong since 2005, though officers denied rumours they had also fired rubber bullets
Fry up: A man cooks sausages for protesters, who are blocking the main street to the financial Central district in Hong Kong
China has called the protests illegal and endorsed the Hong Kong government’s crackdown. The clashes – images of which have been beamed around the world – are undermining Hong Kong’s image as a safe financial haven, and raised the stakes of the face-off against President Xi Jinping’s government. Beijing has taken a hard line against threats to the Communist Party’s monopoly on power, including clamping down on dissidents and Muslim Uighur separatists in the country’s far west.
The mass protests are the strongest challenge yet to Beijing’s decision last month to reject open nominations for candidates under proposed guidelines for the first-ever elections for Hong Kong’s leader, promised for 2017. Instead, candidates must continue to be hand-picked by Beijing – a move that many residents viewed as reneging on promises to allow greater democracy in the semi-autonomous territory.
With rumours swirling, the Beijing-backed and deeply unpopular Leung reassured the public that speculation that the Chinese army might intervene was untrue.
‘I hope the public will keep calm. Don’t be misled by the rumors. Police will strive to maintain social order, including ensuring smooth traffic and ensuring the public safety,’ Leung said. ‘When they carry out their duties, they will use their maximum discretion.’
Democracy: The students are demanding a free vote in upcoming elections after the Chinese government hand-picked candidates loyal to the regime
Protection: Protesters wearing home-made gas masks and goggle throw tear gas grenades back at police as they demand democratic elections in Hong Kong
Unlawful: Hong Kong leader C.Y. Leung has said authorities will do whatever is necessary to break up the protest, which he said were illegal
Violent: An officer holding a riot shield shouts at protesters during a second day of demonstrations in Hong Kong where police have clashed with activists
The protest has been spearheaded largely but student-age activists but has gathered momentum among a broad range of people from high school students to the elderly.
Protesters also occupied streets in other parts of Hong Kong Island, including the upscale shopping area of Causeway Bay as well as across the harbor in densely populated Mong Kok on the Kowloon peninsula. The city’s transport department said roads in those areas were closed.
More than 200 bus routes have been canceled or diverted in a city dependent on public transport. Subway exits have also been closed or blocked near protest area. Authorities said some schools in areas near the main protest site would be closed.
Leung urged people to go home, obey the law and avoid causing trouble.
‘We don’t want Hong Kong to be messy,’ he said as he read a statement that was broadcast early Monday.
Arrests: While police have dispersed many of the protesters there are still thousands from the Occupy Central group gathered in the city’s financial district
Protest: It is believed that the city’s financial district will try to operate as normal tomorrow, despite thousands of protesters camped in the street
Crowd control: Riot police prepare to defend the Hong Kong government complex, although it was later reported that some protesters had made it inside
Standoff: Protesters have now erected barricades in the centre of Hong Kong and are preparing to settle in for the night as riot police surround them
Unrest: The night of demonstrations follows on from clashes between activists and police yesterday when students charged through a cordon and broke into the Hong Kong government complex
That came hours after police lobbed canisters of tear gas into the crowd on Sunday evening. The searing fumes sent demonstrators fleeing, though many came right back to continue their protest. The government said 26 people were taken to hospitals.
To ward off tear gas, demonstrators improvised with homemade defenses such as plastic wrap, which they used to cover their face and arms, as well as umbrellas, goggles and surgical masks.
The protests began with a class boycott last week by students urging Beijing to grant genuine democratic reforms to this former British colony.
‘This is a long fight,’ business and law student Edward Yau, 19, said overnight. ‘The government has to understand that we have the ability to undo it if they continue to treat us like we are terrorists.’
Riot teams wearing protective headgear and carrying body-length shields faced off with crowds on one of the financial district’s main streets as fumes from the gas rose above the crowds
Thousands of students and activists frantically dispersed as fumes from the gas spread among demonstrators calling for democratic reform in Hong Kong
Crowds hopped over the barriers separating some of the city’s main roads to flee the streaming gas as riot police became more violent in their efforts to control crowds
A wall of umbrellas goes up against riot police yielding full-body-length shields and has masks as officers throw pepper spray on students and activists in Hong Kong
When China took control of Hong Kong from the British in 1997, it agreed to a policy of ‘one country, two systems’ that allowed the city a high degree of control over its own affairs and kept in place liberties unseen on the mainland. It also promised the city’s leader would eventually be chosen through ‘universal suffrage.’
Hong Kong’s residents have long felt their city stood apart from mainland China thanks to those civil liberties and separate legal and financial systems.
Beijing’s insistence on using a committee to screen candidates on the basis of their patriotism to China – similar to the one that currently hand-picks Hong Kong’s leaders – has stoked fears among pro-democracy groups that Hong Kong will never get genuine democracy.
University students began their class boycotts over a week ago and say they will continue them until officials meet their demands for reforming the local legislature and withdrawing the proposal to screen election candidates.
Students and activists had been camped out since late Friday on streets outside the government complex. Sunday’s clashes arose when police sought to block thousands of people from entering the protest zone. Protesters spilled onto a busy highway, bringing traffic to a standstill.
The police threatened using ‘a higher level of force’ to stomp out the protests in Hong Kong if crowds returned to the site but were unsuccessful as hundreds stood their ground
The force threatened tougher action on the protesters if they returned to the site following the tear gas. Undeterred demonstrators did indeed come back however later in the evening
Crowds grab umbrellas and throw them above their heads in a desperate attempt to shield themselves from the gas as tensions flared during the third day of protests
A man throws his arms in the air and walks away from streaming canisters of tear gas as photographers – some of whom were wearing masks – scramble to capture the dramatic moment in Hong Kong
The Hong Kong leader C.Y. Leung backed the police’s efforts to control swelling crowds as Beijing branded the previously peaceful protests ‘illegal’
One of the main streets in Hong Kong’s financial district was blocked as thousands of protesters staged a planned mass sit-in in the name of democratic reform
Outrage: Protestors chanted in opposition of the Hong Kong leader outside his headquarters today as their campaign for democratic reform was thwarted by police
A lone protester stands among armoured riot police waving their body-length shields as the third day of demonstrations in Hong Kong reached boiling point
Demonstrators covered their eyes with sunglasses and goggle and their mouths and noses with clingfilm to avoid breathing in tear gas at the protest
Two young demonstrators stood their ground at the scene of the protests this evening, wearing waterproof ponchos and protective eye gear in anticipation of more gas
Students and activists covered themselves entirely in protective clothing in the event more gas was distributed. One man wrapped cling film around his forearms in a bid to avoid burns
As night fell hundreds had returned to the scene with protective eyewear and waterproof ponchos in the fear that more tear gas will be distributed tonight
In a statement issued after midnight, the Hong Kong police said rumors that they had used rubber bullets to try to disperse protesters were ‘totally untrue.’
Police in blue jumpsuits, wearing helmets and respirators, doused protesters with pepper spray when they tried to rip metal barricades apart.
Thousands of people breached a police cordon Sunday as they tried to join the sit-in, spilling out onto a busy highway and bringing traffic to a standstill.
Although students started the rally, leaders of the broader Occupy Central civil disobedience movement joined them early Sunday, saying they wanted to kick-start a long-threatened mass sit-in demanding Hong Kong’s top leader be elected without Beijing’s interference.
Occupy Central issued a statement Monday calling on Leung to resign and saying his ‘non-response to the people’s demands has driven Hong Kong into a crisis of disorder.’ The statement added that the protest was now ‘a spontaneous movement’ of all Hong Kong people.
Police said they had arrested 78 people. They also took away several pro-democracy legislators who were among the demonstrators, but later released them.
A police statement said the officers ‘have exercised restraint and performed their duties in a highly professional manner.’ It urged the public to not occupy roads so that emergency vehicles can get through.
Among the dozens arrested was 17-year-old Joshua Wong, who was dragged away soon after he led a group of students storming the government complex. Wong is a leader of the activist group Scholarism, which organized protests two years ago that forced the government to drop proposed Chinese national curriculum guidelines seen as brainwashing. He was released Sunday evening.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2773343/Beijing-bans-Instagram-mainland-China-bid-quell-Hong-Kong-pro-democracy-uprising-riot-police-withdraw-following-criticism-tear-gas-tactics.html#ixzz3EpTNQDrJ
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