Hong Kong vigils for dead student turn to street clashes

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People collect, paying tribute to Chow Tsz-lok, 22, a college student who died after he fell throughout a protest in Hong Kong, China, November 8, 2019. — Reuters pic

HONG KONG, Nov 8 — Candlelight Hong Kong vigils mourning a student who died as we speak after a excessive fall throughout a pro-democracy rally rapidly spiralled into street fires and cat-and-mouse clashes between pro-democracy protesters and police.

The centre of violence appeared to be on Nathan Road, within the Kowloon district of Mong Kok, one of the crucial densely populated areas on this planet, the place activists constructed barricades and trashed an entrance to the metro station.

Police used a robotic to attempt to detonate a suspected explosive machine on a aspect street after no less than three blasts within the space amid a standoff with petrol-bomb throwing protesters for hours.

Chow Tsz-lok, who studied on the University of Science and Technology (UST), fell on Monday from the third to the second ground of a parking zone when protesters had been being dispersed by police. It was the primary student demise in months of rallies.

Chow, 22, died on commencement day for many UST college students. His demise is probably going to gasoline anger at police, who’re below stress over accusations of extreme drive as the previous British colony grapples with its worst political disaster in a long time.

UST college students trashed a campus department of Starbucks, a part of a franchise perceived to be pro-Beijing, and rallies are anticipated throughout the territory over the weekend.

“Condemn police brutality,” they wrote on the restaurant’s glass wall.

Hundreds of scholars, most in masks and carrying candles, then lined up in silence at UST to lay white flowers in tribute.

Thousands additionally left flowers on the spot the place he fell on the automobile park in Tseung Kwan O, to the east of the Kowloon peninsula, sometimes singing hymns.

In the buying district of Causeway Bay, a whole lot lined the streets in silence, with the eerie hum of the town within the background.

Then the temper modified.

People began shouting abuse at “black police”, referring to perceived brutality, and blocked streets in Causeway Bay.

In Mong Kok, dozens of activists barricaded off Nathan Road, which leads to the harbour to the south. They vandalised a closed metro entrance, throwing in bricks and pouring oil by the steel grill, and destroyed a telephone sales space in a small explosion. There had been clashes and fires within the New Territories city of Sha Tin.

In Tseung Kwan O, the place individuals had been leaving flowers and silently crying for hours, individuals screamed encouragement and abuse after a site visitors mild was set on fireplace.

Chow’s buddy and fellow UST student, Ben, 25, stated the pc science undergraduate appreciated taking part in netball and basketball.

“We played netball together for a year,” he informed Reuters in tears. “I hope he can rest in peace. I really miss him.”

Spiral of violence

Students and younger individuals have been on the forefront of the a whole lot of 1000’s who’ve taken to the streets since June to search higher democracy, amongst different calls for, and rally in opposition to perceived Chinese meddling within the Asian monetary hub.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 below a “one country, two systems” components, permitting it colonial freedoms not loved on the mainland, together with an impartial judiciary and the proper to protest.

China denies interfering in Hong Kong and has blamed Western nations for stirring up hassle.

The protests had been ignited by a now-scrapped extradition invoice permitting individuals to be despatched to mainland China for trial, however have developed into wider calls for democracy. They pose one of many greatest challenges for Chinese President Xi Jinping since he took cost in 2012.

Two pro-Beijing newspapers ran full-page advertisements, commissioned by “a group of Hong Kong people,” calling for a postponement of the lowest-tier district council elections set for Nov. 24, a transfer that may infuriate these calling for democracy.

Since June, protesters have thrown petrol bombs and vandalised banks, shops and metro stations. Police have fired rubber bullets, tear fuel, water cannons and, in some instances, dwell ammunition.

In June, Marco Leung, 35, fell to his demise from building scaffolding after unfurling banners in opposition to the extradition invoice. Several younger individuals who have taken their very own lives have been linked to the protests.

The college known as for an impartial investigation into Chow’s demise, saying an ambulance was blocked by police vehicles and ambulance officers had to stroll to the scene, inflicting a delay of 20 minutes.

The authorities expressed “great sorrow and regret”. A police spokeswoman, tears in her eyes, stated officers would discover out the reality as quickly as attainable and urged the general public to be “calm and rational”.

Police have denied blocking an ambulance. The automobile park stated it might launch CCTV footage as quickly as attainable.

Protests scheduled over the weekend embrace rallies in buying malls, a few of which have beforehand descended into chaos as riot police stormed areas crowded with households and youngsters. Protesters have known as for a basic strike on Monday morning and for individuals to block public transport. Such calls have come to nothing up to now.

Last weekend, anti-government protesters crowded a shopping center in working clashes with police that noticed a person slash individuals with a knife and chunk off a part of the ear of an area politician. — Reuters

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