Hong Kong Police Fire Tear Gas on 24th Weekend of Unrest

HONG KONG (Reuters) -
A police technician looks for explosive devices after a protest in the Mong Kok area in Hong Kong, China, Friday night. (Reuters/Thomas Peter)

Hong Kong police fired tear gas to break up pro-democracy protesters in the western district of Tsuen Wan on Sunday as violence broke out in the New Territories on the 24th straight weekend of unrest.

Protesters vandalized a train station in the central new town of Sha Tin a day after burning plastic barriers in Tsuen Wan, just two weeks before planned district council elections, the lowest tier of voting in the Chinese-ruled city.

Now news channel showed pictures of a huge red welt on the upper arm of one of its reporters who said she had been hit by a tear gas canister in Tsuen Wan.

The rail station was closed in Sha Tin on a day of planned shopping mall protests throughout the territory. Shopping districts across the harbor on the main island were quiet.

Last weekend, antigovernment protesters crowded into a shopping mall when a man slashed people with a knife and bit off part of a politician’s ear.

The protesters are furious at what they see as police brutality and meddling by Beijing in the former British colony’s freedoms, guaranteed by the “one country, two systems” formula in place since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

China denies interfering in Hong Kong and has blamed Western countries for stirring up trouble.

Thousands of people gathered on Saturday night at a vigil for “martyrs,” after a student died in hospital last week following a fall from a height.

Though the vigil ended peacefully, many attendees called for revenge after the student’s death from injuries sustained during a protest.

Seven pro-democracy city lawmakers have been detained or face arrest and are due to appear in court on Monday on charges of obstructing a May meeting of the local assembly, police and several of the lawmakers said.

“We believe that the government together with the police, as well as the pro-establishment camp, they are trying to escalate the anger of Hong Kong people in order to cancel or even to postpone the upcoming district council election,” Tanya Chan, a pro-democracy lawmaker, told reporters on Saturday.

One of the arrested lawmakers, Gary Fan, said the detentions were the result of “political prosecutions and judicial crackdowns” by Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam.

The elections are due on Nov. 24

Protesters have also called for a general strike on Monday and for people to block public transport, although such calls in the past have often come to nothing.

Protesters have thrown petrol bombs and rocks at police who have responded with tear gas, pepper spray, water cannon, rubber bullets and several rounds of live ammunition. They deny using excessive force.