“I don’t think we should just make concessions in order to silence the violent protesters,” she said.
Her intervention on Friday came as protesters occupied Hong Kong’s airport to kick off another three days of action. One placard read, “There are no rioters, only tyranny.”
Another read, “All you can eat tear gas available in 13 districts” while a banner draped over a railing read, “Liberate Hong Kong,” and, “Revolution”.
Protesters gathered in the arrivals hall of the airport’s main terminal from midday on Friday. They gave out leaflets to tourists in different languages explaining the reasons for their action.
Activists also distributed “boarding passes” that read, “Gate will be closed when you give up.”
On Saturday hundreds of families joined a rally to “guard our children’s future”.
Several other protests are planned across Hong Kong over the weekend. Many may be deemed “illegal” if cops fail to grant permission for them to go ahead.
Protests have hit Hong Kong for over two months in opposition to a new law that would allow extraditions to mainland China. This would allow China to target its political opponents in Hong Kong.
Lam previously suspended the law—but has again refused to scrap it. But activists have moved beyond this—demanding an inquiry into police violence, the release of all jailed protesters and the resignation of Lam.
They have faced severe repression.
On Monday of this week, police announced that they had arrested 420 people between the ages of 14 and 76 since 9 June. They used over 1,000 tear gas grenades, 160 rubber bullets and 150 sponge bullets against demonstrators.
Those arrested face charges for offences including riot, unlawful assembly and assaulting police officers.
Police said some 800 canisters of tear gas were used on Monday of this week alone.
Far from being concerned about police violence towards ordinary people, those at the top in Hong Kong are panicking about profits. Chair of the Travel Industry Council, Jason Wong Chun-tat, complained this week about protesters causing a drop in tourists flying to the city.
He claimed the impact could be even worse than that of an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003.
The authorities are trying to scare protesters into backing down. So Lam denounced the “violence” of protesters and the “huge damage” they have caused to the economy.
A general strike on Monday, the first in half a century in Hong Kong, caused widespread disruption to services and forced many businesses to close.
Those at the top are also trying to divide the movement.
Yang Guang, spokesperson for Chinese government’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, claimed the movement involves “violent radicals” and “kind-hearted citizens” who are “misguided”.
But he warned that protesters should not “mistake our restraint for weakness”.
“We would like to make it clear to the very small group of unscrupulous and violent criminals and the dirty forces behind them—those who play with fire will perish by it,” he said.
China has threatened to intervene in what it is calling a “colour revolution” in Hong Kong. And Lam has recalled Hong Kong’s highest advisory body, the executive council, which was supposed to be on a summer break until 27 August.
Protests and strikes have got the authorities on the run. The best response to their threats is to escalate the action.
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