Socialist Worker

Protesters shut down airport in Hong Kong and defy state repression

The mass movement has refused to leave the streets in defiance of the police, writes Sadie Robinson

Issue No. 2667

Protesters during a sit-in at Hong Kong International Airport on Monday

Protesters during a sit-in at Hong Kong International Airport on Monday (Pic: Studio Incendo/Flickr)


All flights out of Hong Kong International Airport were cancelled on Monday. It was an unprecedented reaction to an occupation of the airport that began on Friday of last week.

The occupation was continuing as Socialist Worker went to press and hundreds more flights were cancelled on Tuesday.

The action takes place as protests in Hong Kong enter their tenth week.

Angry protests over the weekend defied police attacks.

Demonstrators were furious after police fired teargas in a subway station in Kwai Fong on Sunday. They then attacked people who tried to escape down an escalator with batons.

Some cops also dressed as protesters before attacking people.

Man-Kei Tam from Amnesty International Hong Kong said the police action has “escalated to another level”.

Protests began in June against a new law to allow extraditions of suspects to mainland China. This would allow China to target political opponents in Hong Kong.

But the movement now has much wider demands—including more democracy and the resignation of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam.

Lam was forced to suspend the law within days of the protests ­beginning. But she is refusing to withdraw it.

Last Friday Lam said, “I don’t think we should just make concessions in order to silence the violent protesters.” But the violence is coming from the state.

Canisters

Cops said they used 800 tear gas canisters on Monday of last week alone.

Between then and 9 August they said they had arrested 420 people between the ages of 14 and 76 and used over 160 rubber bullets.

One placard during last Friday’s airport occupation read, “All you can eat tear gas available in 13 districts.” Canisters show that some of the gas was manufactured by British firm Chemring at a Derby factory.

Britain has licensed sales of arms and security equipment worth £9.4 million to Hong Kong since 2014.

In June former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt promised to stop exports of tear gas to Hong Kong.

Yet the Tories have now invited a delegation from Hong Kong to an arms fair in London next month.

Meanwhile Hong Kong’s rulers are panicking about profits. Lam denounced the “huge damage” the protests have caused the economy.

The authorities are trying to scare protesters into backing down—and to divide them between so-called “violent” activists and “misguided” citizens.

Workers took part in Hong Kong’s first general strike in half a century last week. It caused widespread disruption. China has since threatened to intervene in what it is calling Hong Kong’s “colour revolution”.

Protests and strikes have got the authorities on the run. The best response to their threats is to escalate them.

Stand With Hong Kong protest. Saturday 17 August, 1.30pm, Trafalgar Square, central London. Go to 8.17 UK Solidarity with HK Rally on Facebook

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