Socialist Worker

Pro-democracy protests spread across Hong Kong as unions threaten strikes

by Sally Kincaid
Issue No. 2423

Thousands protesting in Admiralty, Hong Kong

Thousands protesting in Admiralty, Hong Kong (Pic: johnlsl/Flickr)


Thousands of pro-democracy protesters remained on the streets of Hong Kong as Socialist Worker went to press.

The protests, called by the Occupy Central group, shut down the financial district.

Riot police were sent to disperse a crowd of tens of thousands in central Hong Kong last Sunday. 

They failed—and were removed altogether on Monday of this week.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has sparked the protests. It had promised direct elections for Hong Kong’s leader, the chief executive, by 2017.

But the CCP has since ruled that only candidates it selects and approves will be allowed to run. This created massive opposition.

Student protesters took over the civic square outside the city government office last weekend.

They occupied the street outside current chief executive CY Leung’s house on Thursday of last week.

This followed a mass boycott of lessons in universities, colleges and schools, backed by over 400 academics.

Pro democracy protester

Pro democracy protester (Pic: Alpha/Flickr)


The students’ determination—despite being kettled and tear gassed—gave others confidence to take to the streets in their support.

Emptied

Shops surrounding the occupied area were emptied as people brought supplies to the students. 

Umbrellas were thrown to protesters to protect against the pepper spray.

Police made a number of arrests including of Joshua Wong, a 17 year old student leader. They attacked protesters again on Sunday morning, this time with tear gas.

But the crowds continued to grow, equipped with medical masks and cling film to ward off the gas.

Drivers parked their coaches to make it more difficult for the police to attack. There were reports that taxi drivers gave students a 50 percent discount if they were joining the protests.

Others said that metro train drivers were announcing to passengers, “Passengers with hearts, please walk to Admiralty from Central. We need you there.”

Teachers and other unions have announced that they will strike.

Over half a dozen international solidarity protests took place last weekend, including two in London.

Demonstrators joined a sit-down protest in the central square in Taipei, Taiwan, where they watched events in Hong Kong on a large screen.

China’s government backs the Hong Kong authorities’ response.

Britain’s Foreign Office announced on Monday of this week that it was “concerned” about the situation. But protesters said the CS gas grenades being used against them were made in Britain.

Photographs showed grenades produced by British firm Chemring Defence. Britain approved a licence for tear gas exports to Hong Kong in January.


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