400,000 march on 7th weekend . . .
Hong Kong entered its seventh consecutive weekend of demonstrations over the government’s attempt to pass a controversial extradition bill that many fear would give Beijing greater control over the Special Administrative Region. While earlier protests were relatively peaceful, they have become increasingly provocative with events this past weekend the most violent so far. On Sunday afternoon some 400,000 protesters gathered in Hong Kong’s Central Business District chanting, “Free Hong Kong.” As the day progressed, protesters defied the police-sanctioned protest route and set their sights on Beijing’s Central Government Liaison Office, pelting it with eggs and spraying graffiti outside the building.
A violent end to the weekend . . .
While demonstrations at the Liaison Office were taking place, the Yuen Long MTR station became the scene of unprecedented violence as a mob of men in white T-shirts stormed the station at around 10:30 p.m. and began attacking people wearing black T-shirts, a symbol of the anti-extradition bill demonstrations, as well as innocent bystanders. By 7:00 a.m. Monday, there were at least 45 injured, including a pregnant woman, and one person was in critical condition. The men clad in white T-shirts, identified as pro-government and pro-Beijing, reportedly also have links to local Triad gangs.
Police remain passive . . .
Following allegations of excessive use of force on demonstrators last month, Hong Kong police appear to be taking a more relaxed stance. Perhaps too relaxed: they have now been criticized for failing to respond quickly enough to the Yuen Long MTR attack, arriving at the scene at least five minutes after the attackers had disbanded. While police officials say their response time was a result of their resources being stretched thin, many victims of the attack, including opposition party members, allege a collusion between police and the gang-linked attackers.