HONG KONG (Reuters) – About 400 people were arrested in New Year’s Day protests in Hong Kong after what started as a peaceful pro-democracy march of tens of thousands spiralled into chaotic scenes with police firing tear gas to disperse the crowds.
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Anti-government protesters march during a demonstration on the New Year’s Day to call for better governance and democratic reforms in Hong Kong, China January 1, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
The arrests take the total to about 7,000 since protests in the city escalated in June over a now-withdrawn bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China, and will highlight the apparent absence of any progress towards ending the unrest.
The tension on Wednesday rose after some arrests were made in the Wan Chai bar district near a branch of global banking group HSBC, which has been the target of protester anger in recent weeks.
When scuffles broke out, large numbers of black-clad protesters rushed to the scene while other protesters formed human chains to pass them various supplies including bricks, forcing police to bring in their own reinforcements.
Police then asked organisers to call off the march early and crowds eventually dispersed as a water cannon truck and scores of police in riot gear patrolled the streets late into the evening.
In a briefing late on Wednesday, Senior Superintendent Ng Lok-Chun told reporters the arrests were made for offences including unlawful assembly and possession of offensive weapons.
Over the months, the protests have evolved into a broad movement pushing for full democracy in the Chinese-ruled city and an independent investigation into complaints of police brutality. Police maintain they act with restraint.
Arrests were also made on New Year’s Eve, when protesters briefly occupied a major road on the Kowloon peninsula as crowds of thousands counted down to midnight along the Victoria harbour.
In pics: Hong Kong protests
Hong Kong is going through a major political crisis triggered by a controversial extradition bill introduced by the government earlier this year. Though the bill has been formally withdrawn, demonstrators continue to hold protests calling for democratic reforms while demanding that the international community pressure China to guarantee the territory’s freedom.
(Pictured) Police in riot gear move through a cloud of smoke as they detain a protester at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov. 18.
Police fire tear gas as protesters attempt to march toward Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov. 18.
Police fire tear gas as protesters attempt to march toward Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov. 18.
Protesters use bricks as road barricades near Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov. 18.
Protesters react as police fire tear gas at Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov. 17.
A protester’s umbrella catches fire during clash with police outside Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov. 17.
Firefighters try to extinguish a fire on the barricades on the main road next to Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov. 16.
A protester walks with a bow and arrows along a footbridge roof near the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov. 16.
Pedestrians walk among bricks and debris left by protesters near the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on Nov. 16.
An anti-government protester stands at a blocked outlet of the Cross Harbour Tunnel near the Polytechnic University on Nov. 16.
A fire is seen at an MTR station during a demonstration at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Kowloon Tong on Nov. 13.
Protesters react after police fired tear gas at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Nov. 12.
A protester sits amid a road block outside City University of Hong Kong on Nov. 12.
People run away after tear gas is fired by the police in Central, Hong Kong’s commercial district, on Nov. 11.
Riot police charge to disperse protesters on Nov. 11.
Styrofoam boxes are scattered across an intersection to block traffic on Nov. 11.
A woman sits in a bus as fire burns in the middle of the street during an anti-government demonstration in Tsuen Wan on Nov. 10.
People take a moment of silence during a remembrance prayer in memory of Alex Chow, a student who succumbed to head injuries sustained during a fall as police skirmished with demonstrators, on Nov. 9.
Protesters in Guy Fawkes masks gather to mark the one-month anniversary of the local government banning face coverings at rallies, in the Kowloon district on Nov. 5.
An anti-government protester reacts as police fire tear gas on Nov. 2.
Pro-democracy supporters gather to perform at a flash mob event outside of Chungking Mansion in Kowloon on Oct. 23.
Protesters set up a statue “The Lady Liberty of Hong Kong,” symbolizing the city’s recent democratic movement, on Oct. 13.
People gather for a rally at a shopping mall in Sha Tin on Oct. 12.
A woman holds up a handbill as protesters gather at Central on Oct. 4.
A protester prods a burning banner that celebrated the 70th anniversary of China’s founding with an umbrella during a protest in Central on Oct. 4.
Students conduct a sit-in during a rally on the grounds of the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Oct. 3.
A masked protester sits near a graffiti during a protest on Oct. 4.
Protesters hold up their umbrellas as police fire tear gas in Tai Koo on Oct. 3.
People light incense sticks and offer flowers as they pray at a makeshift shrine outside the Mong Kok district police station on Oct. 3.
Pro-democracy demonstrators hold up their hands to symbolize their five demands during a protest against government’s announcement to ban face masks at public demonstrations, at Chater Garden on Oct. 4.
Riot police aim with tear gas launcher as they charge toward protesters outside Tai Koo station on Oct. 3.
Pro-democracy protesters hold umbrellas as shield from tear gas fired at them by the police ouside Tai Koo station on Oct. 3.
A protester throws a petrol bomb at Tsuen Wan police station on Oct. 2.
A protester wears a white raincoat and mask during a rally on Oct. 2.
A protester stands defiant despite being surrounded by tear gas smoke during a protest on Oct. 2.
A protester wears a face mask carrying a banner that reads “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” as residents march to the Tsuen Wan stadium on Oct. 2.
A protester holds a placard mimicking an eye chart that reads “You can kill the dreamer but you can’t kill the dream” marches with others from Chater Garden toward Central district on Oct. 2.
A protester throws back a gas canister fired by the police on Oct. 1.
A protester kicks away a tear gas canister on Oct. 1.
A protester carries rocks past a graffiti saying “Happy Birthday,” marking the National Day of the People’s Republic of China, on Oct. 1.
A riot police personnel fires projectiles on Oct. 1.
Protesters take part in a rally with umbrellas in hand on Oct. 1.
Protesters start a fire to block traffic on Oct. 1.
Protesters sling projectiles at the police on Oct. 1.
Police spray blue-dyed water to disperse protesters on Oct. 1.
A protester builds a wall in the street on Oct. 1.
Protesters vandalize an MTR station on Oct. 1.
Protesters run down an escalator amid tear gas on Oct. 1.
Anti-government protesters hold up banners, placards, Union Jack flags as they gather outside the British Consulate-General building on Sept. 15.
A Pro-China demonstrator stands in front a Chinese national flag during an argument with anti-government protesters at Amoy Plaza shopping mall on Sept. 14.
High-school students and alumni form a human chain during a rally in the Ma On Shan district on Sept. 13.
Pro-democracy protesters form a human chain and wave laser pointers, phones and lanterns in the air on Victoria Peak on Sept. 13.
Protesters sing songs and shout slogans during a gathering at the IFC Mall on Sept. 12.
People gather at a shopping mall in the Shatin area on Sept. 11 to sing a recently penned protest song titled “Glory to Hong Kong.”
Activist Joshua Wong (R) answers the questions of press members on the extradition bill at the Federal Press Office in Berlin, Germany, on Sept. 11.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam talks during a press conference at the government building on Sept. 10. Lam appealed to pro-democracy protesters to halt violence and engage in dialogue.
Pro-democracy supporters shout slogans during a FIFA World Cup qualifier match between Hong Kong and Iran at the Hong Kong Stadium on Sept. 10.
A demonstrator holds a sign in support of anti-government protesters at a FIFA World Cup qualifier match between Hong Kong and Iran on Sept. 10.
Journalists wear protective gear and high-visibility vests during a press conference to highlight allegations that police have mistreated and obstructed the media when covering clashes between the police and protesters, at the police headquarters on Sept. 9.
Students attend a rally to highlight the demands of protesters at the University of Hong Kong on Sept. 9.
Secondary school students wearing masks join a human chain protesting police brutality against protesters on Sept. 9.
High-school students cover their right eye after a woman suffered an eye injury. Demonstrators blamed the injury on a bean bag round fired by police at a previous protest, during a rally in the Shatin district on Sept. 9.
Secondary school students hold a stuffed doll with an eye patch during a protest on Sept. 9.
Students, alumni and teachers in the Mid-Levels area take part in a joint school human chain rally on Sept. 9.
Police officers clash with protesters at Central Station on Sept. 8.
Protesters display open palms with five fingers, signifying the five demands of the protesters, as they march to the U.S. consulate on Sept. 8.
Protesters are seen at the Causeway Bay station on Sept. 8.
A fire set by protesters burns at an entrance to the Central MTR subway station on Sept. 8.
Riot police fire tear gas to disperse protesters around Causeway Bay area during a rally on Sept. 8.
Protesters destroy a barricade during a rally on Sept. 8.
Protesters hold U.S. flags as they walk through Central district during a march to petition the U.S. consulate on Sept. 8.
Protesters hold up five fingers and a U.S. flag during a rally to the U.S. consulate on Sept. 8.
A protester dressed as the Statue of Liberty during a march to the U.S. consulate on Sept. 8.
Members of the media look on as a protester holds a cake that says “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times,” during a demonstration on Sept. 7.
People light candles at a tribute wall at the entrance to Prince Edward MTR station on Sept. 7.
Protesters use umbrellas to shield themselves during a demonstration on Sept. 7.
Protesters attend a silent rally inside a shopping mall in Shatin district on Sept. 7.
Protesters wave flashlights during a protest outside Mong Kok police station on Sept. 7.
Protesters burn barricades at Mong Kok district on Sept. 6.
Protesters take shelter behind umbrellas as they gather outside Prince Edward MTR station on Sept. 6.
Students form a human chain outside the Maryknoll Convent School on Sept. 6.
A protester destroys a ticketing machine during a protest in Mong Kok on Sept. 6.
A police officer displays weapons seized from a man during a media briefing, on Sept. 5.
Police officers stand guard at Po Lam MTR station during a standoff with protesters on Sept. 5.
Protesters start to barricade a tunnel in front of the government headquarters during a general strike on Sept. 3.
Protesters gather during a pro-democracy rally at Tamar Park on Sept. 3.
Police fire a water cannon at protesters outside the government headquarters on Aug. 31.
Protesters shine laser pointers during a clash with the police at Admiralty district on Aug. 31.
Protesters wave their phones and hold hands to form a human chain along the Avenue of Stars during an anti-government rally on Aug. 23.
Some protesters allege HSBC was complicit in action by the authorities against activists trying to raise money to support their campaign. The bank denies any involvement.
Published at Wed, 01 Jan 2020 20:21:17 +0000
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