Commuters in chaos as protesters shut Hong Kong transports

Commuters in chaos as protesters shut Hong Kong transports

Protesters in Hong Kong filled public parks and squares in several districts and transportation hubs today in a general strike created to draw attention to their demands that city leader Carrie Lam resign.

Ms Lam has warned the recent protests have pushed the city to the "verge of a very risky situation" and threaten to destroy the city's prosperity.

The summer-long protests began in opposition to a contentious extradition bill, but have continued despite the government's decision to suspend the legislation that would have sent some suspects to mainland China for trial. Dozens of protesters were charged with rioting and the Chinese military said it was ready to quell the "intolerable" unrest if requested.

The latest protests have left the streets empty according to Al Jazeera reporter Andrew Thomas who said, "This is a city where there's very little, it feels anyway, economic activity going on at the moment".

Hong Kong residents have accused police of negligence after 44 people were injured last month in a mob attack that appeared to target protesters. Some extreme violent protesters even threw bricks, threw petrol bombs and made bombs", CNN quoted Lam as saying."Hong Kong is a free society - freedom is our core value.

Over the weekend riot police fired tear gas at protesters in multiple districts throughout Saturday and Sunday night.


Last Sunday, protesters and police clashed on the island's two main thoroughfares.

At a press conference on Saturday, strike organizers - many hiding their identities behind masks - said some 14,000 people from more than 20 sectors had already committed to civic action.

More than 100 flights have been cancelled out of Hong Kong after a large number of airport employees called in sick in apparent participation in the general strike, Hong Kong media reported.

Insulting the Chinese national flag and challenging national sovereignty by some radicals in Hong Kong is against the rules, officials said.

"Support for the political strike today seems strong and it's been bolstered further by the escalating violence between the police and protesters", political analyst Dixon Wong told AFP.

In addition to paralyzing the city's trains and airports, the protesters blocked traffic in the streets causing some jams until the streets could be cleared.


Protesters attempt to contain tear gas fired by the police in the Admiralty area during a general strike in Hong Kong.

However earlier in the day tens of thousands of people filled a park to rally in support of the police, in a vivid illustration of the political polarization coursing through Hong Kong.

Under the terms of the 1997 handover deal with Britain, the city has rights and liberties unseen on the Chinese mainland, including an independent judiciary and freedom of speech.

Travellers are warned to expect disruptions to both airline and overland travel in Hong Kong 5 August.

Demonstrations may lead to sections of the city being closed off and public transport being significantly affected.

While the government has since suspended the bill, protesters have pressed on with broader calls for it to be scrapped entirely, along with demands for democratic reforms including the dissolution of the current legislature and an investigation into alleged police brutality.


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