SPECIAL ALERT: HONG KONG PROTEST MONITOR 20 September 2019

THE SITUATION NOW

Hong Kong began its 15th week of mass protests with serious unrest over the weekend of 14-15 September that resulted in at least 89 arrests. Violent clashes between protesters and the police escalated as both sides respectively used ever increasing numbers of petrol bombs and tear gas rounds. The police again deployed water cannon with coloured dye to aid the identification of protesters, while lightly-armoured Mercedes Unimog riot-control vehicles were observed for the first time. In addition, violence between pro-democracy and pro-Beijing activists increased in frequency and intensity this week, with numerous people requiring hospital treatment following clashes between rival groups.



Police deploy blue dye in a water cannon outside Central Government Headquarters in Tamar, Admiralty on Sunday 15 September.

On Saturday 14 September clashes and fighting between pro-democracy demonstrators and pro-Beijing activists occurred in multiple locations across Hong Kong, including in Amoy Plaza shopping centre in Kowloon Bay and at two ‘Lennon Walls’ displaying pro-democracy propaganda in Hang Hao in Tseung Kwan O and outside Fortress Hill MTR station. At another rally in Tin Shui Wai hundreds of protesters marched from Tin Sau Road Park to Tin Shui Wai railway station, defying a police ban. They built roadblocks that caused bus diversions and delays to rail services. However, and despite skirmishes that resulted in 25 casualties requiring hospital treatment, no serious violence between protesters and police was reported on Saturday. 

On Sunday 15 September thousands of people defied a police ban to march from Causeway Bay to Central on Hong Kong island, with many carrying US national flags and calling for US President Trump to ‘liberate Hong Kong.’ Simultaneously, a smaller group marched to the British Consulate in Admiralty demanding the UK government declare the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong to be void.



Protesters set fire to a water cannon with a petrol bomb outside Central Government Headquarters in Tamar, Admiralty on Sunday 15 September.

As forecast by A2 Global Risk, the initially peaceful marches culminated into some of the worst unrest Hong Kong has yet seen. Protesters gathered outside Central Government Headquarters in Tamar, Admiralty, launched an unprecedented number of petrol bombs and other projectiles at riot police, initially forcing them to withdraw further into the complex. Police fired numerous rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets before finally deployed water cannon filled with coloured dye. The water cannon were eventually successful in dispersing the crowds, despite one being set on fire by a petrol bomb that caused superficial damage. During the disturbances a middle-aged man was found seriously injured on Gloucester Road in Wan Chai. In videos circulated online a group of pro-democracy protesters are seen violently attacking the man, who remains hospitalised in a serious condition. 

After leaving Tamar many protesters moved east with the police in pursuit, causing severe damage to the Admiralty, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay MTR stations. The protesters erected and then set fire to barricades at multiple locations along Hennessy Road and Lockhart Road. In addition to tear gas and water cannon, the police deployed a lightly armoured Mercedes Unimog riot-control vehicle for the first time. However, the vehicle made no significant contribution to police operations and its function remains unclear.

Later that night opposing groups of anti-government and pro-Beijing protesters clashed in Hong Kong island’s North Point and Fortress Hill districts, with verbal abuse quickly turning to violent confrontations. Near Fortress Hill MTR station a group of men in white shirts and suspected to be associated with a Fujian organised crime (‘triad’) group were videoed chasing and beating black-clad pro-democracy supporters. Violence also occurred near North Point MTR station, where a group of men also wearing white shirts attacked journalists, some of whom were injured in the first such violence directly targeting media workers. Riot police arrived to separate the group and fired tear gas on King’s Road in North Point. 

The following weekdays were relatively peaceful with numerous small-scale pro-democracy and pro-Beijing rallies occurring, but with no significant violence reported.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD

The previous week has been notable for the increase in clashes between pro-democracy and pro-Beijing factions. As the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China approaches on 1 October, the actions of pro-Beijing activists are likely to increase and risk escalating further inter-group violence. Such violence may occur with little or no warning and presents particular risks to members of the public in the vicinity or who could be viewed as belonging to a rival faction. A2 Global Risk advises Hong Kong residents and visitors to be aware of any activity that could become confrontational and avoid wearing exclusively black or white clothing. 

On Saturday 21 September a pro-democracy ‘Take Back Tuen Mun’ march is scheduled to start at 1400 from San Wo Lane playground and end at the Tuen Mun Government Building in the New Territories. A police letter of objection has been overturned and the march is expected to go ahead. There is a significant risk of violence between pro-democracy and pro-Beijing activists at this event. Junius Ho, the Hong Kong Legislative Council member for Tuen Mun, is a prominent pro-Beijing activist and was videoed shaking hands with alleged members of a Fujian province-linked triad group that assaulted pro-democracy protesters in Yuen Long on 21 July, an incident considered to be one of the key triggers in the present crisis.

At 1900 a sit-in is scheduled at Yuen Long MTR Station to mark the two-month anniversary of the 21 July attack. A similar event on 21 August to mark the one-month anniversary led to serious violence within and damage to the MTR station and similar clashes are widely anticipated. A2 Global Risk advises against all travel to or thorough Yuen Long MTR Station after 2000.

On Sunday 22 September a protest, referred to as a ‘stress test,’ is scheduled at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) and connecting transport routes from 1300. The event had been postponed from the previous weekend to allow protesters time to better prepare for the enhanced security measures now in place at HKG. It is unclear what new tactics the protesters will deploy. A2 Global Risk does not expect severe disruption to airport operations as the authorities have also had time and unlimited resources to prepare their response. However, minor disruptions and clashes between police and protesters are possible across all transport routes to HKG. As a result we advise those travelling to the airport to allow additional time for the journey and, if possible, arrive and depart HKG before 1300 regardless of flight time.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam is due to begin a ‘Community Dialogue’ this week, which includes meeting 150 randomly selected Hong Kong residents to discuss their various grievances. A2 Global Risk does not expect this initiative to have any material impact on the actions or plans of the protest movement. However, it is also unlikely the Beijing government will seek to escalate the security situation during this period in the lead-up to the 1 October anniversary of the foundation of the PRC. As a result, A2 Global Risk considers any deployment of Chinese paramilitary forces into Hong Kong to be highly unlikely during this period.


INTERNATIONAL INCIDENTS

On Monday 17 September Hong Kong legislator Tanya Chan told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva that the territory was ‘on the verge of a humanitarian crisis’ and urged an international investigation into alleged excessive use of force by the police against protesters. Beijing rebutted Yang’s allegation, stating Hong Kong’s crisis is not a humanitarian crisis but ‘a crisis of the rule of law’.

On the same day Chris Patten, Britain’s last governor of Hong Kong, said in order to reach a resolution of the current unrest the Chinese government would have to show it believed in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and that the UK should stress the importance of Beijing honouring its commitments.

On Tuesday 18 September prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong addressed a US Congressional hearing in Washington DC to call for bipartisan support for the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Singer-activist Denise Ho, author Dan Garret, Human Rights in China executive director Sharon Hom and Hong Kong Higher Education International Affairs Delegation Spokesman Sunny Cheung also attended the hearing.


UPCOMING PROTESTS

Friday 20 September

The ‘Bye Buy Day HK’ campaign continues on Friday. The movement calls for the public to reduce unnecessary spending on Friday and Sunday while limiting shopping to what the organisers call ‘ethical stores.’

Secondary students in Tsuen Wan plan to form a human chain in Tsuen Wan, scheduled from 1700 to 2000.

‘Opposing HSBC’s Suppression of Union, Requesting Retreat of the Dismissal Decision’ rally is scheduled at Chater Garden, Central from 1800 to 1930.

Saturday 21 September

The ‘Clean Up Hong Kong’ is scheduled from 0900 to 1800.

The ‘Re-liberating Tuen Mun Park’ rally is scheduled from 1400 to 1900. Protesters plan to march from San Wo Lane to Tuen Mun Government Offices in the New Territories. The police issued a letter of objection which was overturned on appeal.

The ‘Yuen Long Terrorist Attack Two-Month Anniversary Sit-in Assembly’ is schedule from 1900 to 2300 at Yuen Long MTR Station in the New Territories.

Sunday 22 September

The ‘Bye Buy Day HK’ is expected to continue.

Boycott activities are scheduled at Citylink Plaza and New Town Plaza in Shatin, New Territories, from 1200. Protesters plan to sing, boycott shops and form human chains.

The ‘Airport Transportation Stress Test’ is scheduled from 1300 to 0000. Protesters plan to occupy all public transport between Hong Kong city and Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), including using private cars on the highways to HKG in a bid to overwhelm the road system.

The ‘Tsuen Wan Secondary School’s Class Boycott Assembly’ is scheduled from 1430 to 1930 at Tsuen Wan Park.

A ‘Territory-wide Transportation Stress Test’ is scheduled from 1300 to 2330 across Hong Kong.

Tuesday 24 September

Protesters plan to rally at multiple districts in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and New Territories to watch the film 1987: When the Day Comes.

Protesters are schedule to rally at Landmark North shopping centre in Sheng Shui the New Territories to sing the de facto protest anthem Glory to Hong Kong.


PROTEST CHRONOLOGY 13 SEPTEMBER – 19 SEPTEMBER

Friday 13 September

Thousands of protesters gathered in the evening on top of Lion Rock, Kowloon, and the Peak, Hong Kong island, and use lanterns, laser pointers, torches and mobile phones to light up human chains and signal across the harbour.

Dozens of people gathered outside the government headquarters in Admiralty, burning traditional offerings and carrying lanterns.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Lai Chi Reception Centre, New Kowloon, to support the protesters who have been remanded in custody there.

Saturday 14 September

A group of pro-Beijing supporters demonstrated on the Lion Rock to call for an end to violence and the restoration or order. A number had to be rescued by government helicopters after becoming stranded.

Clashes occurred between pro-Hong Kong protesters and Beijing supporters around 1100 after the latter group reportedly tore down posters from a Lennon Wall in Hang Hao, Tseung Kwan O, New Territories.

A pro-police crowd reportedly attacked some protesters outside the Fortress Hill MTR station.

During the afternoon verbal abuse between pro-Beijing group and pro-democracy protesters turned in violent clashes inside the Amoy Plaza in Kowloon Bay.

Hundreds of people staged an illegal march from Tin Sau Road Park along the streets of Tin Shui Wai, in the northern New Territories.  Riot police stopped demonstrators at Tin Shui Road and crowd dispersed at around 1600.  Some then moved to a nearby footbridge to form barricades to block the Tin Wah Road.

Hundreds of students rallied at the Edinburgh’s Place, Central.

Sunday 15 September

A small group gathered outside Cheung Sha Wan MTR station, Kowloon, to remove posters from a Lennon Wall, where they were confronted by pro-democracy activists; no serious clashes occurred.

Hundreds rallied outside the British Consulate in Admiralty to demand the UK intervention in support of Hong Kong.

A group of protesters were videoed beating a middle-aged man on Gloucester Road in Wan Chai.

Thousands marched from East Point Road in Causeway Bay to Chater Garden in Central, despite police ban. Protesters set barricades on Hennessy Road and Harcourt Road. A small number attacked Wan Chai and Admiralty MTR stations, causing limited damage. Some protesters threw petrol bombs towards government headquarters at Tamar and at police deployed on Hennessy Road near Three Pacific Place. Multiple fires were started in Admiralty and Wan Chai.

A group of protesters blocked one entrance of the Causeway Bay MTR station and directed laser pointers at the police, who responded with tear gas and pepper spray.

That evening pro-Beijing supporters and pro-Hong Kong demonstrators clashed near Fortress Hill MTR station and North Point. Police separated the groups and fired tear gas on King's Road in North Point.

Monday 16 September

Social work students from University of Hong Kong, Baptist University and Caritas Institute rallied at Edinburgh Place, Central.

Tuesday 17 September

Hundreds pro-Beijing supporters gathered at Golden Bauhinia Square, Wan Chai to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Wednesday 18 September

Around 20 people marched to the Beijing liaison office to protest against the arrest of Lai Rifu, a Guangzhou-based dissident who was arrested for sharing a video which had used the song Glory to Hong Kong.

A group of pro-Beijing supporters gathered in Harbour City shopping centre in Tsim Sha Tsui where they were confronted by pro-Hong Kong protesters; no serious incidents reported.

Councillors from the NeoDemocrats and the Power for Democracy group protested outside government headquarters during the evening to call on the government to accept the protest movements so-called ‘five demands’.

Thursday 19 September

No significant rallies reported.


END REPORT