Hong Kong Airport Authority Cancels All Flights for Monday

HONG KONG (Reuters) -
Security gates are temporarily closed as anti-extradition bill protesters hold a mass demonstration after a woman was shot in the eye during a protest at Hong Kong International Airport, in Hong Kong, Monday. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

Hong Kong‘s Airport Authority has canceled all flights not yet checked in by Monday afternoon, the agency said, as anti-government protesters peacefully demonstrated at the airport for a fourth day.

“Other than departure flights that have completed the check- in process and the arrival flights already heading to Hong Kong, all other flights have been canceled for the rest of today,” the authority said in a statement.

Traffic on roads to the airport was very congested and car park spaces were full, the authority said.

Earlier, Hong Kong police put on a demonstration of an antiriot water cannon on Monday, in a warning to protesters as authorities toughen their approach over violence that has roiled the Asian financial hub for two months.

This summer’s increasingly violent demonstrations have plunged the Chinese-ruled territory into its most serious crisis in decades, presenting one of the biggest popular challenges to Chinese leader Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

Police have never used the cannon since two were bought in the wake of pro-democracy protests in 2014, but Monday’s demonstration used one to blast at dummy targets at a training facility as tactics on both sides harden and shift.

The police were condemned for heavy-handedness at a news conference by three individuals who said they represented the protesters and reiterated a demand for an independent panel to investigate incidents of excessive force.

“It’s not just the water cannon,” said one of the three, Steven Ng, who wore a mask. “The police are continuing to use all sorts of weapons to challenge the bottom line of Hong Kong people with their weapons. … All Hong Kong people with a conscience can see this clearly.”

Over the weekend, as demonstrators threw up barricades across the city, police shot volleys of tear gas into crowded underground train stations for the first time, and fired bean-bag rounds at close range.

Police demonstrate a water-cannon equipped vehicle at the compound of the Police Tactical Unit in Hong Kong, China, Monday. (Reuters/Thomas Peter)

Scores of protesters were arrested, sometimes after being beaten with batons and bloodied by police. Police have arrested more than 600 people since the unrest began more than two months ago.

Tear gas was fired at the black-shirted crowds in districts on Hong Kong island, Kowloon and the New Territories, with one young female medic hospitalized after being shot in the right eye, triggering a protest by medical workers who wore bloodied patches over their eyes.

The protests began in opposition to a bill allowing extradition to the mainland but have widened to highlight other grievances, drawing broad support.

Monday’s demonstration, which showed that the water cannon was powerful enough to force dummy targets back at distances of 33 to 44 yards, drew a rebuke from global rights group Amnesty International.

“Water cannons are not a toy for the Hong Kong police to deploy as a sign of strength,” Man-kei Tam, the group’s Hong Kong director, said in a statement.

“These are powerful weapons that are inherently indiscriminate and have the potential of causing serious injury and even death.”

But some establishment voices called for its deployment.

“You’re gonna taste the water cannons! Very soon!” a pro-Beijing lawmaker, Junius Ho, who attended the demonstration, wrote on his official Facebook account.

As police have dialed up their aggression, protesters have sought to channel a Bruce Lee maxim: “Be water,” making use of a flash-mob strategy to frustrate authorities and stretch their resources.