SPECIAL ALERT: HONG KONG PROTEST MONITOR 18 OCTOBER 2019
THE SITUATION NOW
Violent clashes and numerous rallies and other protests occurred throughout Hong Kong over the weekend of 12-13 October, largely fuelled by opposition to the government’s ban of face coverings during demonstrations. As A2 Global Risk forecast, protesters employed hit-and-run tactics to stretch police resources and minimise the risk of arrest. Once again, some mass transit rail (MTR) stations, government buildings and businesses perceived as being supportive to the local and central governments or opposed to the protesters were targeted and damaged. The rising level of violence was highlighted by the first occasion an improvised explosive device (IED) was denoted and a police officer stabbed.
At lunchtime Friday 11 October a ‘flash mob’-type rally occurred at Chater Garden in Hong Kong island’s Central district. Masked protesters, many of them office workers, marched along Des Voeux and Connaught roads in Central, vocally accusing the police of sexually attacking detainees. That night a group of protesters blocked a section of Castle Peak Road in the New Territories while another barricaded Ming On Street in Hung Hom, Kowloon.
On Saturday afternoon 12 October hundreds of masked protesters staged an unauthorised rally in Kowloon against the ban on facial concealment. They first gathered near the Tsim Sha Tsui clock tower and then marched along Nathan Road and Salisbury Road. Tensions escalated around 1500 when protesters allegedly threw a number of petrol bombs into the Kowloon Tong MTR station, damaging ticket machines and other facilities. A group of protesters also destroyed facilities in Jordan MTR station, set fire to one of the Lai Chi Kok MTR station exits, sprayed graffiti on to the Kowloon Government Office in Yau Mai Tei and the nearby Cheung Sha Wan Government Office as well as causing other damage. However, no serious clashes occurred between police and protesters and no injuries were reported.
Elsewhere at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin, New Territories, hundreds of people joined a so-called ‘mask party’. While relatively peaceful throughout the afternoon, some activists attacked the nearby Sha Tin MTR station where they damaged equipment. Later that night police and protesters clashed outside Mong Kok police station. The police fired a warning shot from the station and the crowd dispersed when police reinforcements arrived.
A branch of Bank of China (Hong Kong) was vandalised on Sunday 13 October 2019
Protests on Sunday 13 October began in the afternoon with small demonstrations at multiple shopping malls across the territory, including PopCorn Mall in Tseung Kwan O, Cityplaza in Taikoo, New Town Plaza in Sha Tin and Metroplaza mall in Kwai Fong. In Sha Tin, dozens of protesters targeted shops operated by Maxim's catering chain while Bank of China ATMs were targeted at New Town Plaza and in Tai Po, ATMs from other mainland Chinese banks were set on fire in Tai Wai.
Flash mob-type protests also occurred elsewhere in the territory. In Tsuen Wan protesters blocked streets with makeshift barricades while activists placed objects onto the East Rail Line tracks at Sha Tin and threw a petrol bomb at an entrance to Wong Tai Sin MTR station. In Tsuen Wan and Tai Po protesters blocked streets with makeshift barricades and hurled objects at the police. The police responded with tear gas in Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin and Tuen Mun and pepper spray in Kwun Tong.
The largest demonstration on Sunday occurred in Mong Kok in the evening after. protesters, who had occupied sections of Nathan Road for much of the afternoon reportedly threw around 20 petrol bombs towards the Mong Kok station, setting barriers on fire. A government vehicle and a tour coach were attacked by protesters who smashed their windows and daubed them with graffiti. A woman accused of taking close-up pictures of the protesters was assaulted, while a man suspected of being a plainclothes police officer was beaten by a group of demonstrators near the intersection of Nathan Road and Argyle Street. A Now TV driver claimed he was beaten by the police with batons inside the Mong Kok station.
A police officer received a potential life-threatening injury when an assailant slashed his neck with a box cutter near Kwun Tong MTR station. A relatively sophisticated improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in a concrete planter next to police vehicle in Mong Kok. The police assessed the IED was sufficiently powerful to maim or kill and that it was specifically targeted against their officers. The IED attack is the first time such a weapon has been used in the present crisis, although to date it remains unclear who was responsible for the blast.
Demonstrators gathered in Chater Garden calling on the US to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 on Monday 14 October 2019
On Wednesday 16 October Jimmy Sham Tsz-Kit, a convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) pro-democracy group responsible for some of the largest peaceful marches in Hong Kong, was attacked and seriously injured by four to five men with hammers in Mong Kok, Kowloon. Police described the group as ‘non-ethnic Chinese’, which usually refers to South Asians working with organised criminal groups ‘triads’). Sham was also attacked in August under similar circumstances.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The past week was notable for some activists increased use of violence against individuals suspected of working for the police, the government or triads. A2 Global Risk continues to forecast that while the number of people attending rallies and demonstrations is set to continue to fall, the level of violence will not diminish and may even increase. We advise Hong Kong residents and visitors to avoid any activity that may be viewed as confrontational, avoid taking close-up photographs of protests and indicating loyalty to any specific group if caught in a demonstration.
On Friday 18 October protesters plan to form human chains at the MTR stations along the Tsuen Wan, Kwun Tong, East Rail and Island lines from 1930 to 2100. A2 Global Risk warns the demonstrations are likely to disrupt MTR normal services, with significant risk of vandalism of MTR stations and adjoining properties.
On Saturday 19 October a rally described as ‘International Humanitarian Aid Prayers’ is scheduled to take place at Chater Garden from 1930 to 2100. A2 Global Risk warns all forms of protest now carry a risk of violence, while major roads in the area are likely to be blocked after dark and should be avoided where at all possible.
On Sunday 20 October an anti-government march organised by CHRF is due to take place between Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui and West Kowloon MTR station. It is probable the police will ban the march, but A2 Global Risk expects it will go ahead and be well-attended. The attack on Jimmy Sham Tsz-Kit on Wednesday 16 October by suspected triads is also likely to encourage some anti-local and central government activists to adopt increasingly violent tactics despite the CHRF’s call for a peaceful rally. A2 Global Risk warns the event is almost certain to end in violent clashes between some activists and the police. An added threat is the willingness of some protesters to single out individuals they suspect of being linked to the police, government or triads and assault them.
At 1900 a sit-in is scheduled at Yuen Long MTR station to mark the three-month anniversary of the 21 July attack in which suspected triad members attacked protesters and members of the public. The incident is seen as leading to the radicalisation of many activists. Similar events on to mark the one- and two-month anniversaries led to serious violence within and damage to the MTR station. A2 Global Risk warns similar clashes are almost inevitable and advises against all travel to or thorough Yuen Long MTR station after 2000.
On Sunday 13 October China’s President Xi Jinping said ‘anyone who attempts to split any region from China will perish, with their bodies smashed and bones ground to powder’. While he did not refer to any specific region, the warning clearly included Hong Kong. The passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by the US House of Representatives this week linking trade and other links to how the territory is administered has created widespread anger and resentment in China. Beijing expressed its ‘strong indignation and firm opposition’ to the bill, which has yet to be approved by the US Senate before being signed into law, accusing Washington of supporting violence and interfering in China’s internal affairs. However, A2 Global Risk assesses the bill will encourage protesters to make greater efforts to ensure it is passed by the Senate, increasing the already deep divisions between local pro-democracy and pro-Beijing groups. This increases the threat of further attacks by ‘patriot elements,’ or pro-China activists and triads, against those considered anti-Beijing.
Chief Executive Carrier Lam’s policy address on Wednesday 16 October was met with scorn from protesters as none of the measures addressed protesters’ five demands. A2 Global warns Lam’s failure to address the protesters most basic demands ensures the present crisis has little to no likelihood at present of being resolved by political means. In the absence of any compromise by either side, further clashes between protesters and the police and other groups appear certain.
On Saturday 12 October US Senator Ted Cruz said the suppression of free speech in Hong Kong illustrated that China was a ‘dictatorship. On Sunday 13 October the Commissioner of China’s Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong described Cruz’s speech as ‘ludicrous’ and condemned him of supporting violence.
On Monday 14 October US Senator Josh Hawley said Hong Kong is becoming a police state. He added that the United States and its European allies should work together to stop China from threatening the Asia-Pacific region.
On Tuesday 15 October the US House of Representatives passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act that links trade and other links between the territory and the US with the local administration’s adherence to certain principals defined in the bill. The bill must be passed by the US Senate and signed by the present before it enters into law. The House also passed a bill that prohibits the export of certain non-lethal crowd control weapons, such as tear gas, to Hong Kong.
Friday 18 October
Flash Mob March is planned to start from 1300 at the following places:
- Central Chater Garden
- Tsim Sha Tsui Salisbury
- Mong Kok Lanham Place
- Kwun Tong Tsun Yip Street Playground
- Sham Shui Po Sports Ground
- Kwai Fong Metro Plaza
'Anti-Police Violence Rally' is scheduled at Sun Yat-Sen Place, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong island, at 1700.
Masked protesters plan to form human chains at stations along the following MTR lines from 1930 to 2100.
- Tsuen Wan Line
- Kwun Tong Line
- East Rail Line
- Island Line
Saturday 19 October
‘International Humanitarian Aid Prayers’ rally is scheduled at Chater Garden, Central, from 1930 to 2100.
Sunday 20 October
A march organised by the Civil Human Rights Front is scheduled to start as 1330 in Salisbury Garden, Tsim Sha Tsui before moving on to West Kowloon Station. Uncertain if police will issue permit for the march.
Monday 21 October
‘Sit-in Against Yuen Long Terrorist Attack’ is planned from 1900 to 2300 at Yuen Long MTR Station.
Rally for Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act’ is planned for Chater Garden, Central, from 1900 to 2230.
Tuesday 22 October
‘Binge Shopping in Three Districts’ to be held in Tsuen Wan, Kwai Tsing District, Yau Tsim Mong and Wai Chai to show support for shops that support the protester.
PROTEST CHRONOLOGY 11-17 OCTOBER
Friday 11 October
An estimated 20 truck, taxi and tour bus drivers from the Motor Transport Workers General Union protested outside police headquarters in Wan Chai, asking for tougher action against anti-government protesters.
Hundreds of masked people participated in a flash mob rally at Chater Garden, Central, and marched along Connaught Road and Des Voeux Road.
After dark protesters blocked Ming On Street in Hung Hom and a section of Castle Peak Road in Yuen Long.
Saturday 12 October
A group of elderly people started a two-day sit-in outside the police headquarters in Wan Chai.
Hundreds of masked people joined an illegal rally in Kowloon. They gathered near the Tsim Sha Tsui clock tower and occupied sections of Nathan Road and Salisbury Road. Some protesters reportedly threw several petrol bombs inside the Kowloon Tong MTR station in mid-afternoon. Jordan MTR station, Kowloon Government Offices and Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices were also attacked and damaged and one of the exits of the Lai Chi Kok MTR station was set on fire.
Hundreds of people gathered at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin for a ‘mask party’ to oppose the ban of facial concealment. At around 2130 a group of activists attacked the Sha Tin MTR station, damaging equipment and facilities.
That evening a crowd gathered outside the Prince Edward MTR station and the Mong Kok police station, shouting slogans and directing laser pointers at the police.
Sunday 13 October
Protests occurred at several shopping centres during the afternoon, including at the PopCorn Mall in Tseung Kwan O, Cityplaza in Taikoo, New Town Plaza in Sha Tin and Metroplaza mall in Kwai Fong.
Protesters occupied major streets Tsuen Wan and Tai Po, setting up barricades and throwing objects to police. Government offices in Tai Po, including
In Sha Tin demonstrators reportedly placed objects on the East Rail Line tracks. In Wong Tai Sin MTR station protesters threw a petrol bomb at an entrance.
In Tai Wa protesters set fire to some Chinese banks’ ATM machines.
Protesters barricaded several streets in Mong Kok and occupied sections of Nathan Road and hurling petrol bombs at Mong Kok police station, A government vehicle and a tour bus parked on Dundas Street were damaged.
Tear gas was used against demonstrators during confrontations in Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin, and Tuen Mun. Pepper spray was used in Mong Kok and Kwun Tong.
Two plainclothes officers were beaten by protesters around in Tseung Kwan O.
Monday 14 October
Around 0700 around a hundred masked students and alumni formed a human chain outside Hon Wah College.
Around a hundred medical workers rallied at Tseung Kwan O Hospital to support a doctor who was arrested on Sunday 13 October at the PopCorn mall.
At night, tens of thousands rallied in Chater Garden, Central, appealing for the United States Congress pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019. Protesters blocked major roads around Exchange Square.
Tuesday 15 October
At night, dozens of basketball fans gathered at the Southorn Playground in Wan Chai to support Daryl Morey, an executive of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, who openly backed the Hong Kong protesters.