Hong Kong/Jakarta/Singapore (14/10) — Protests in Hong Kong are becoming extreme. The protesters escalated violence in every action. Though it started peacefully with people chanting slogans such as “Five Demands, Not One Less” and “Free Hong Kong”, but eventually they became violent.
Shopping malls around the city on Sunday (Oct 13) were occupied by the protesters as the protests entered their 19th week. Around midday everything was just peaceful but by late afternoon some hardcore black-clad activists trashed shops and vandalized metro stations and blocked roads.
At around 5.30pm, a police officer was slashed in the neck by a protester near Kwun Tong MTR station, police said in a statement. The incident took place when officers were looking into a case of criminal damage at the MTR station.
“The sharp-edged object is a deadly weapon. Police will strive to investigate all violent acts,” the force said in a statement. Eyewitnesses said that the right side of the officer’s uniform was stained with blood.
Video footage from Ming Pao showed a team of officers about to enter Kwun Tong MTR station, as a man came up from behind and jabbed a sharp object – similar to a box cutter – towards the neck of one of the officers. Two people were arrested on the scene. The injured officer was sent to United Christian Hospital in a conscious state.
An AFP reporter in the same neighborhood saw crowds of protesters beat a middle-aged woman because she had helped police clear barricades. The woman was struck with fists and umbrellas and also had her face smeared with mud.
In Tai Po district, officers charged into a mall where protesters had tagged several businesses with slogans. Same thing happened in Kwun Tong where protesters damaged some shops in the APM shopping mall.
Shops were targeted by the protesters. In online forums used to organize the largely leaderless movement, protesters had given Sunday’s rally the theme “blossom everywhere” encouraging activists to gather in malls across the city.
New Town Plaza in Sha Tin, Elements in West Kowloon, V City in Tuen Mun, V Walk in Sham Shui Po, The Sogo in Causeway Bay are popular locations for protests.
Protesters went on a vandalism spree. Rallies erupted in multiple neighborhoods with some protesters blocking roads, throwing objects onto train tracks as well as spraying graffiti and smashing the windows of some pro-China businesses.
At least 10 MTR stations were closed as of Sunday evening, as the transit firm cited repair work owing to vandalism. Services on all lines halted at 10pm.
Citywide protests in Hong Kong have continued for over four months, sparked by opposition to a now-scrapped extradition bill that would have allowed fugitive transfers to mainland China.
Demands of the protesters have since broadened to include the investigation and reform of the police force, amnesty for arrested protesters, and electoral reform.
Police found themselves became the public enemy. A group of old people on Nathan Road, Kowloon, cheered the protesters and warning them when police were returning. A group of shoppers inside a mall faced off against riot police outside, cheered when police drove off.
Police used pepper spray not only against protesters, but also against onlookers and journalists. A student reporter from Hong Kong Polytechnic University had to be taken away on an ambulance while wearing an oxygen mask.
Street battles between riot police and small groups of protesters have become a weekly occurrence, hammering the already struggling economy, spooking tourists and undermining Hong Kong’s reputation for stability.
Hong Kong is staring at something perilously close to anarchy. It is no exaggeration that ordinary citizens for whose future the rioters claim they are fighting live in daily fear.
A columnist of South China Morning Post asked Carrie Lam and her councils: Why not authorize preemptive arrests and detention of known hard-core rioters and the masterminds behind them? Why not expel any foreigners caught instigating or worse, directing rioters if charging them is not an option? And freeze bank accounts suspected of being used to channel money to pay the rioters?
Hong Kong’s anarchy needs a forceful response.