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Hong Kong: Protesters Defy Ban On March, Face Police Wrath

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HONG KONG– Hong Kong police have used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon to disperse crowds as tens of thousands marched in the city, defying a ban.

Demonstrators lit fires, threw petrol bombs at riot police and attacked the parliament building.

An event to mark five years since Beijing ruled out fully democratic elections was banned in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China.

On Friday, several key pro-democracy activists and lawmakers were arrested.

The protest movement grew out of rallies against a controversial extradition bill – now suspended – which would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.

It has since become a broader pro-democracy movement in which clashes have grown more violent.

What happened on Saturday?

Protesters took to the streets in the Wan Chai district, many joining a Christian march, while others demonstrated in the Causeway Bay shopping district in the pouring rain. Many carried umbrellas and wore face masks.

On the 13th weekend of protests, demonstrators – chanting “stand with Hong Kong” and “fight for freedom” – gathered outside government offices, the local headquarters of China’s People’s Liberation Army and the city’s parliament, known as the Legislative Council.

In the Admiralty district, some protesters threw fire bombs towards officers. Earlier, protesters marched near the official residence of embattled leader Carrie Lam, who is the focal point of much of the anger.

Police had erected barriers around key buildings and road blocks, and fired tear gas and jets of blue-dyed water from the water cannon. The coloured liquid is traditionally used to make it easier for police to identify protesters.

Protest during anti-government rally in Hong KongImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionPolice fired tear gas to disperse the crowds
Police detain a demonstrator in Hong Kong. Photo: 31 August 2019Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionA number of demonstrators were detained

Eric, a 22-year-old student, told Reuters news agency: “Telling us not to protest is like telling us not to breathe. I feel it’s my duty to fight for democracy. Maybe we win, maybe we lose, but we fight.”

The recent demonstrations have been characterised as leaderless.

On Friday police had appealed to members of the public to cut ties with “violent protesters” and had warned people not to take part in the banned march.

Police made a number of arrests late on Saturday.

SOURCE: BBC NEWS