A crowd of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong staged a silent sit-in at the Yuen Long MTR station on Wednesday evening, marking a month since a group of suspected organized crime group members violently attacked demonstrators there.
On July 21, after a demonstration in downtown Hong Kong against a now-shelved extradition bill was broken up by police, protesters returning to Yuen Long were attacked by a mob wielding iron bars and bamboo sticks.
Footage of the attack posted on social media showed the marauding masked gang, wearing white T-shirts, attacking crowds on the platform and inside train carriages at Yuen Long MTR station, located in the far northwest of the semi-autonomous Chinese city.
Protesters were reportedly at the mercy of the mob for almost an hour before police arrived and at least 45 people were injured, some seriously.
Hong Kong police confirmed at a news conference on Tuesday that while there have been 28 arrests made stemming from the July 21 violence, none have yet been charged.
On Wednesday evening the Hong Kong government said in a statement that activists had blocked roads outside the station and that after “repeated warnings to the protesters went futile, police are now conducting a dispersal operation, using minimum force.”
However, the scene turned chaotic suddenly as people began overturning trash cans, vending machines and carts, using them to build makeshift barricades in anticipation of a confrontation with police.
Many of the demonstrators carried umbrellas, which have become both a symbolic and practical tool of protesters — who use them to block tear gas or attacks from club-wielding police.
Police in riot gear gathered outside the station and remained there, generally leaving the protesters alone.
The siege lasted about two hours before most of the black-clad protesters left, at around midnight.
Hong Kong has been beset by a major political crisis, with last weekend marking the 11th consecutive weekend of mass demonstrations, first sparked by widespread opposition to a controversial bill that would enable China to extradite fugitives from the city.
While that bill isn’t currently on the table, the demonstrations have since grown, with protesters expanding their demands for full democracy and police accountability.
While the demonstrations began fairly peacefully in March, clashes between police and demonstrators have marred recent demonstrations with tear gas, alleged police brutality, and angry confrontations at the fore of the protests.
Source : Various