SPECIAL ALERT: HONG KONG PROTEST MONITOR 11 OCTOBER 2019
THE SITUATION NOW
The government’s decision on Friday 4 October to impose
a ban on protesters concealing their faces by the use of masks or other means
predictably provoked many demonstrators, triggering mass protests and later
violence over the weekend of 5-6 October. Protesters, many of them wearing
masks in defiance of the new ban, attacked mass transit rail (MTR) stations and
their equipment as well as commercial interests perceived be pro-Beijing or
hostile to the protest movement. The police continued to respond with tear gas,
water cannon and baton charges, arresting numerous people for defying the mask
ban as well as for acts of violence or other offenses. After some protesters
directed lasers at their barracks, troops from the People’s Liberation Army
(PLA) garrison in Kowloon for the first time issued a warning to protesters to
desist or risk arrest.
Protesters angered by the anti-mask law took the streets on Friday 4 October 2019
Other actions included blocking Waterloo Road, Kowloon Tong, with makeshift barricades and rallies at the APM mall in Kwun Tong and at New Town Plaza in Shatin, both in the New Territories.
In the period before the anti-mask law came into force many protests became violent as activists damaged facilities at Shatin Lok, Fu and Kwun Tong MTR stations. The MTR Corp responded by ordering the unprecedented closure of the entire rail system, including the Airport Express and light rail services. Protesters also built roadblocks and set several on fire in Shatin, Wong Tai Sin, Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui in the New Territories and Kowloon and Causeway Bay and Wan Chai on Hong Kong island. The police responded with tear gas, although in the New Territories town of Yuen Long a plainclothes police officer allegedly shot a 14-year-old boy in the leg during an incident involving petrol bombs.
On Saturday 5 October thousands of protesters wearing
masks in defiance of the ban marched from Causeway Bay to Charter Garden.
Separately, a group of masked protesters marched around Sheung Shui, where they
attacked more shops whose owners or management they identified as supporting
the government. That evening, groups of protesters blocked Castle Peak Road in
Yuen Long and Lung Cheung Road at Wong Tin Sin in the New Territories while
others occupied Nathan Road in Mong Kok and attacked the local police station.
However, no serious clashes occurred as the police and protesters refrained from
either using extreme violence or robust control tactics.
A branch of China Construction Bank vandalised on Sunday 6 October 2019
That afternoon another illegal rally was staged in Kowloon as masked protesters gathered at Tsim Sha Tsui and moved along Nathan Road. A large group gathered in nearby Tat Chee Avenue before dispersing to multiple locations, including Sham Shui Po, Cheung Sha Wan and Kowloon City. Some activists attacked and damaged buildings and premises, including the local Kowloon government office in Yau Ma Tei and a branch of China Construction Bank near Prince Edward MTR station. A fire was started near Mong Kok MTR station, which the police responded to with tear gas leading to a confrontation outside the local police station.
That evening troops occupying the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) barracks in Kowloon Tong warned protesters on Waterloo Road who had allegedly directed laser pointers at the facility and military personnel, to desist or face arrest. This was the first time members of the PLA garrison in the territory directly interacted with protesters. After the warning the protesters dispersed without further incident at the PLA barracks. Once again the MTR offered limited services and closed down early to facilitate what the management described as repair and maintenance work.
Monday 7 October, a public holiday, was relatively calm until violent clashes occurred in Mong Kok during the evening. Protesters again occupied the intersection between Nathan Road and Prince Edward Road, erecting makeshift barriers. The police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, which moved south along Nathan Road to establish more barricades.
That evening some protesters in the New Territories town of Tseung Kwan O attacked a restaurant at the Popcorn mall and set fires at the local MTR station, while others threw petrol bombs and metal poles at the police, who responded with tear gas, pepper spray and other crown control equipment. Limited casualties were reported on both sides.
Similarly, protesters in Shatin attacked a sushi restaurant at the City One mall, damaged the Sha Tin Wai MTR station, and erected barriers on local roads. In Ma On Shan a crowd that had gathered at the local police station were dispersed by the police firing tear gas. Protesters also attempted to block major roads in Tai Koo, on Hong Kong island, and Wong Tai Sin in Kowloon.
During the week MTR services were restricted, with some lines and stations remaining closed for repair and the service closing for the day at between 2000 and 2100. Many shops and malls also closed earlier over concerns of further unrest.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The use of emergency powers to invoke the anti-mask law represents an escalation in Hong Kong authorities’ efforts to manage the protests. A march against the emergency laws is scheduled at 1500 at Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower and proceed to Sham Shui Po Sports Ground. Apart from these two rallies, boycotts are scheduled at multiple MTR shopping malls across the city. A rally against the law is scheduled on Saturday 12 October, starting on 2100 at New Town Plaza Atrium in Shatin. A2 Global Risk warns if these demonstrations go ahead it is likely to be well attended, with a significant risk of violence and vandalism of the plaza and nearby MTR stations.
While no other large-scale rallies are scheduled over the period, A2 Global Risk does not expect a reduction in violent incidents. Instead, we anticipate more ‘flash mob’ type protests will occur anywhere without warning. The willingness of some of the activists to employ extreme tactics remains significant, increasing the threat to the wider public of being involved in potentially dangerous incidents. In response to this threat and to facilitate further repairs, the MTR Corp announced that on Friday 11 October the network, except for the Airport Express, will close at 2200. A2 Global Risk recommends passengers leave any MTR station where large numbers of protesters are evident.
One of the most significant developments over the past week is the targeting of an increasing number of business entities perceived to oppose the protests or supportive of the local and central governments. A2 Global Risk warns such attacks are set to continue and recommends caution while visiting malls or shopping areas if protesters or concentrations of police personnel are evident.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday 9 October that her government had no plans to use any further emergency powers to enact new laws. She also said Hong Kong currently does not require Beijing’s assistance in controlling public disorder. Nevertheless, Lam also noted ‘if the situation becomes so bad, no option can be ruled out’. A2 Global Risk continues to assess military intervention by the PLA and China’s People’s Armed Police (PAP) remains low given the high economic, diplomatic and reputational costs such an action would incur. Nevertheless, PLA personnel based in Hong Kong can be expected to continue their direct interaction with protesters if they are directly targeted or threatened.
On Friday 4 October Daryl Morey, the general manager of the US Houston Rockets basketball team, expressed his support for protesters in Hong Kong on the Twitter social media service. This created a major backlash in China leading multiple Chinese companies to end or suspend their commercial ties with the US National Basketball Association (NBA). On Tuesday 8 October China’s Central Television (CCTV), the country’s state-run broadcaster, announced it would not broadcast NBA games. The incident highlighted the reputational and contractual risks associated with public comments on politically sensitive matters in China.
Friday 11 October
The ‘Fold with you in Wai Fong’ is scheduled at Piazza of Metro Plaza from 1800 to 2000. Protesters plan to fold 1000 paper cranes.
Protesters plan to form a human chain in Tai Po, New Territories, from SKH Yuen Chen Maun Chen Jubilee School to Tai Po Tin Hau Temple Fung Shui Square from 2030 to 2300.
Demonstrators scheduled to gather at shopping malls across 18 districts to sing the protest anthem ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ at 2100.
Saturday 12 October
The ‘Anti-Emergency Laws March’ is scheduled at 1500 at Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower and proceed to Sham Shui Po Sports Ground.
A ‘Masked protest for anti-mask law and support the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act’ is scheduled at New Town Plaza Atrium, Shatin, at 2100.
Boycotts are scheduled in the following MTR’s Shopping Malls from 1300
- CityLink (Shatin)
- Luk Yeung Galleria (Tsuen Wan)
- Maritime Square (Tsing Yi)
- Elements (Tsim Sha Tsui)
- Telford Plaza (Kowloon Bay)
- PopCorn (Tseung Kwan O)
A 48-hour sit-in protest is scheduled from 1400 and last until 1400 on 14 October outside police headquarters in Admiralty.
Sunday 13 October
A rally is scheduled at 1600 to 1900 at Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, where protesters plan to write their sentiments over the current crisis on the paper cranes.
PROTEST CHRONOLOGY 4-10 OCTOBER
Friday 4 October
Thousands of mainly office workers staged peaceful rallies in Central to protest against the ban on wearing face mask at demonstrations. They marched towards Sheung Wan, disrupting traffic and chanting protest slogans.
The number of protesters increased during the afternoon and occupied the area around Exchange Square, Connaught Road and Man Yiu street.
That night a group of protesters blocked roads in Kowloon Tong and erected barriers on Waterloo Road while others gathered at New Town Plaza in Shatin and the APM mall in Kwun Tong. Activists later damaged Shatin, Lok Fu and Kwun Tong MTR stations and set fire to barricades at a Causeway Bay MTR exit.
Other protesters set up roadblocks in Central, Shatin and Wong Tai Sin and marched along major streets in Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay. As tension escalated riot police fired tear gas in Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Wong Tai Sin and Aberdeen to disperse the crowd.
In Yuen Long, a plainclothes police officer allegedly shot a 14-year-old boy in the leg after being attacked by a group of protesters.
Saturday 5 October
A large crowd wearing face masks marched from Causeway Bay to Chater Garden in against of the law against protesters concealing their faces. Police made arrests near Statue Square in Central.
Separately, a group of masked protesters marched around Sheung Shui, attacking premises and businesses they identified as supporting the local and central governments.
Hundred masked protesters formed a human chain from Tsim Sha Tsui to Sham Shui Po.
That evening dozens of protesters occupied Castle Peak Road in Yuen Long and Lung Cheung Road at Wong Tai Sin. A group of demonstrators also set up barricades on Nathan Road in Mong Kok and threw objects at Mong Kok police station.
Sunday 6 October
Thousands of masked protesters marched from Causeway Bay towards Central. The peaceful march confronted by the police, who used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse protesters in Admiralty, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay. Some protesters moved back to Wan Chai and Causeway Bay, erecting barricades and throwing petrol bombs.
Simultaneously, thousands of other protesters marched from Tsim Sha Tsui to Kowloon Tong along Nathan Road. A large group gathered in nearby Tat Chee Avenue and Cornwall Street and scattered to multiple locations including Sham Shui Po, Cheung Sha Wan and Kowloon City when the police moved against them.
Monday 7 October
In Mong Kok, officers fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators who had set up makeshift barriers at the intersection of Nathan Road and Prince Edward Road.
Protesters also gathered at outside the Prince Edward MTR station, while activists started a fire outside nearby Mong Kok police station.
Police reportedly arrested several protesters in Yuen Long, firing multiple rounds of tear gas. Protesters later seized the Tai Tong Road station on the Light Rail, setting a fire there.
In Shatin, masked protesters attacked and damaged the Sha Tin Wai MTR station. They also smashed the City One station and attacked a restaurant at the City One mall.
Protesters set up makeshift barriers at Tai Koo and Wong Tai Sin.
In Tseung Kwan O protesters smashed a restaurant at the Popcorn mall. Elsewhere, they threw petrol bombs and metal poles at police officers and damaged the Tseung Kwan O MTR station.
At Ma On Shan a large crowd gathered at the police station to demand the release of a man who had been detained. Police fired tear gas and the protesters dispersed.
Tuesday 8 October
An estimated 150 masked students and alumni from a secondary school in North Point marched from Fortress Hill MTR Station to Cheung Chuk Shan College
Wednesday 9 October
In the early hours an explosion was reported near Tsing Yi MTR Station and a protest Lennon Wall in Tsing Yi district was on fire. It is unknown whether the incidents were related to the protests.
Thursday 10 October
Dozens masked protesters gathered outside the Tsim Sha Tsui police station to support a woman who suffered an eye injury there during a protest on 11 August.