Violence escalated during the 12th consecutive weekend of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, as riot police fired tear gas and baton-charged protesters while demonstrators responded by throwing bricks and other objects.

Thousands of protesters took to Kwun Tong district in the city’s east on Saturday, reiterating the five demands that have emerged during this pro-democracy movement, and adding an additional issue: the government’s installation of “smart” environmental monitoring lampposts, which have sparked privacy concerns.

Protesters attempted to tear down or dismantle the lampposts, while others gathered on the streets and formed barriers. Protesters have been seen with a slingshot, iron bars and bricks, while riot police fired back pepper spray and tear gas, making it the first time in 10 days since tear gas was fired.

In a statement on Saturday evening, the Hong Kong government condemned the “vandalistic and violent acts of the protesters” and said that a number of smart lamp-posts were “deliberately damaged.” The government added that the smart lampposts “do not carry facial recognition function and would not infringe upon personal privacy.”

Friday evening, protesters formed a 28-mile human chain across 39 train stations in a show of unity that was inspired by an example seen in 1980 during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The demonstrators sang songs as they held small signs that said, “Thank you for supporting freedom and democracy.”

The latest demonstration in the 11-week movement that stemmed from outrage over a proposed extradition bill was inspired by 1989 protests across Baltic states.

On Aug. 23, 1989, the so-called Baltic Way involved 2 million Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians protesting Soviet domination of the region.

“I joined the Hong Kong Way because it’s peaceful,” protester Peter Cheung, 27, told Reuters, referring to the campaign’s name. “This is the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way. I hope there will be a bigger chance to make an international noise.”

Meanwhile, United Airlines has announced that it’s halting non-stop flights between Chicago and Hong Kong, citing weak demand.

Chicago-based United did not directly blame the suspension on the anti-government protest crisis that has gripped Hong Kong since June. The Post has learned that the Chicago-Hong Kong route was losing money before passengers began decreasing more rapidly in recent weeks.

“Given the reduced demand for travel between Chicago and Hong Kong, we have determined that it is best to suspend our service,” the airline said in a statement. The last flight from Chicago will be on September 8.

A Christian hymn is the anthem of the protesters.

The hymn, “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord,” written by Linda Stassen in 1974, was heard resonating from the voices of hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, in a city where it is estimated 1 in 10 people are Christian. While the song holds special religious significance to the many faithful in the crowd, the hymn was sung by even the religiously unaffiliated, in hopes that it might protect them from governmental scrutiny.

As the hymn is a religious song, the protesters hope that they can be protected under the city’s safeguards of religious freedom.

May God be with the good people of Hong Kong.

 
 
donate
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.