Socialist Worker

Protests and strikes in Hong Kong as cops ramp up violence

Defiant action by protesters has been met with increasing levels of brutality, writes Sadie Robinson

Issue No. 2670

Students rallying in Hong Kong on Monday, the first day of a strike in solidarity with the pro-democracy movement

Students rallying in Hong Kong on Monday, the first day of a strike in solidarity with the pro-democracy movement (Pic: Studio Incendo/Flickr)


Workers in Hong Kong began a two-day general strike on Monday as the pro-democracy movement entered its 13th week.

The strike involves workers from over 20 sectors including construction, transport, retail and tourism. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions estimated that some 350,000 joined a general strike on 5 August.

Health workers held protests inside the Prince of Wales and Queen Mary hospitals in support of demonstrators.

Student strikes hit over 90 universities on Monday, while school students across Hong Kong also struck. Organisers expected up to 10,000 to strike across 200 schools.

A student during the strike in Hong Kong on Monday

A student during the strike in Hong Kong on Monday (Pic: @Dystopia992/Twitter)


Students wearing gas masks and yellow helmets formed human chains outside schools. They plan to strike every Monday.

Secondary school teacher Ng Mei-lan told a student rally on Monday afternoon, “I have been on the front lines.

“I never thought that as a civil servant, a middle aged teacher, that I would be so changed by this movement.”

The action followed a weekend of defiant protests. Activists held a sit-in at Hong Kong’s international airport, using barricades and fires to fend off riot police. They forced the cancellation of over 40 flights.

Disrupt

One demonstrator said, “If we disrupt the airport, more ­foreigners will read the news about Hong Kong.”

Protesters also targeted train stations after MTR, a mostly ­government-owned firm, shut down stations close to protests last week. In Tung Chung, protesters flooded the MTR station with fire hoses and the company was forced to close five lines on Saturday night.

Police attacked protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon over the weekend.

They also fired live warning shots, and attacked people inside a train station with pepper spray and batons.

A number of high-profile activists were arrested last week. And Hong Kong’s biggest airline, Cathay Pacific, has threatened to sack workers who strike.

Hong Kong’s top security official John Lee said on Monday that protesters’ actions were “escalating to a point of terrorism”. But the authorities’ hard line is radicalising many people.

“The government has shown us that peaceful protests are useless,” said Issac Cheung from the Demosisto pro-democracy party.

“The strike shows our determination to continue fighting.”


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