SPECIAL ALERT: HONG KONG PROTEST MONITOR 4 OCTOBER 2019
THE SITUATION NOW
As A2 Global Risk forecast, widespread violence throughout Hong Kong over the weekend of 28-29 September culminated in the most severe unrest the territory has yet witnessed during the 1 October anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Saturday 28 September tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands of protesters
gathered in Tamar Park, in Hong Kong island’s Admiralty district, for a rally
organised by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) to mark the fifth anniversary
of the start of the 2014 Occupy, or ‘Umbrella’, movement. The initially
peaceful rally swiftly turned into violent clashes between protesters and
police near the government headquarters. The police deployed tear gas and water
cannons, causing widespread disruption throughout Admiralty and, subsequently,
Wan Chai districts.
Police fire tear gas at protesters on Sunday 29 September.
On Sunday 29 September tens of thousands of protesters gathered illegally at Sogo department store in Hong Kong island’s Causeway Bay district for an unauthorised ‘global anti-totalitarian march’. Police used tear gas in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the crowd marching towards Admiralty.
Protesters clashed with police on multiple occasions
throwing petrol bombs and other projectiles, prompting the police to add rubber
bullets and water cannons to their now almost routine barrage of tear gas.
Violent clashes in which protesters constructed roadblocks that they set on
fire occurred long into the night throughout Admiralty, Wan Chai and Causeway
Bay. Plainclothes police officers fired live rounds as a warning and a
journalist was hit in the eye by a suspected rubber bullet. In total, police
reported firing 328 rounds of tear gas and 480 rubber bullet-type projectiles
and made 157 arrests.
A protester prepares to throw a petrol bomb at police on Tuesday 1 October.
On Tuesday 1 October Hong Kong witnessed the most severe and widespread violence yet experienced during the present crisis, with senior police officers admitting to their personnel being ‘overwhelmed’. In total, police fired over 1,400 rounds of tear gas and more than 1,300 rubber bullet-type projectiles during territory-wide unrest lasting around 12 hours. Police made 269 arrests of activists ranging between 12 and 71 years of age, and a total of 66 people required hospital treatment.
The most intense street battles occurred on Hong Kong island as a march organised by the CHRF from Causeway Bay to Central went ahead despite being banned by the police. Protesters threw an unprecedented number of petrol bombs, bricks and other projectiles at police, and constructed street barricades they then set on fire along major arterial roads in Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Admiralty and Central during the course of the afternoon and evening. Police engaged protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons on numerous occasions while live rounds were fired as warning shots on at least two occasions.
Police aim ‘less-lethal’ riot control weapons at protesters on Tuesday 1 October.
Significant violence in which petrol bombs and tear gas were deployed occurred in at least nine other districts, including Jordan, Mong Kok, Sham Shui Po and Wong Tai Sin in Kowloon and Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun and Sha Tin in the New Territories. Protesters vandalised Mass Transit Rail (MTR) stations throughout the territory, forcing the closure of 44 out of the system’s 91 stations. The scale of the unrest meant police were outnumbered and forced to withdraw on numerous occasions
In Tsuen Wan a police officer was filmed firing a live round into the chest of an 18 year old protester who was attacking him with a metal pole. The video shows the protester lying on the ground for at least three minutes before police permitted paramedics to attend to him. The protester remains in hospital, but is expected to survive to face charges of rioting and assault.
On Wednesday 2 October violent unrest continued in numerous locations throughout Hong Kong, predominantly in the New Territories, as activists protested against the previous night’s shooting.
On Thursday 3 October predominantly peaceful protests were held in at least 11 areas and districts throughout Hong Kong to protest widespread concerns that the government planned to introduce emergency regulations to ban the wearing of masks during demonstrations. Police responded to protester violence with tear gas in Tai Koo, an upmarket neighbourhood on Hong Kong island.
On 4 October the government announced that a ban on wearing masks at public assemblies would come into effect from midnight, utilising colonial era Emergency Regulations Ordnance (ERO) legislation that enables the government to bypass the territory’s legislature.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Hong Kong is approaching a long weekend in which A2 Global Risk expects continued widespread violence. Large segments of Hong Kong society have been angered by the shooting at close range of a high school student and both peaceful and radical activists have pledged to intensify their respective campaigns. Further, the ban on masks will be treated as a provocation and is likely to result in mass protests by masked people intended to highlight the near impossibility of enforcing the emergency regulation.
Meanwhile, an absence of effective political leadership makes de-escalation by either side improbable. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam was widely criticised for attending National Day celebrations in Beijing during the worst violence Hong Kong has witnessed in decades. Lam’s ‘community dialogue’ programme which began last week is also highly unlikely to have any meaningful impact on protester actions, while at the same time indicating the strength of anti-government and anti-police sentiment.
On 30 September Reuters reported numbers of mainland troops stationed in Hong Kong had nearly doubled to around 10,000 to 12,000 personnel following a ‘routine’ force rotation A2 Global Risk reported in August. With the National Day celebrations now over the potential for Beijing to authorise limited deployment of People’s Armed Police (PAP) units in Hong Kong has increased. While we still consider this move to be highly unlikely under existing security conditions, such a deployment would most likely comprise a small number of PAP personnel embedded within existing Hong Kong police units. A2 Global Risk continues to assess the deployment of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops to be highly unlikely, in line with our previous assessments.
On Saturday 5 October multiple protests at shopping malls throughout Hong Kong (details below) are scheduled to start from 1300. These are likely to begin peacefully but could exhibit violence in and around the malls as the afternoon continues.
A rally is scheduled to begin at 1900 at Victoria Park, Causeway Bay. At the time of writing additional protests are under consideration during the afternoon on Hong Kong island and throughout the New Territories. There is significant risk of violence and disruption throughout Causeway Bay, Wan Chai and Admiralty prior to, during and after the rally, as well as in Kowloon and the New Territories. A2 Global Risk advises residents and visitors to avoid known protest locations during Saturday afternoon and evening.
On Sunday 6 October another rally is scheduled to begin at 1400 at Victoria Park, Causeway Bay in support of the Indonesian journalist injured on 30 September. This is due to be a peaceful protest. However, there remains the possibility of violence in Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, and Admiralty on Hong Kong island throughout Sunday late afternoon and evening.
Monday 7 October is a public holiday and protest activity is likely in locations throughout Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories, some of which will become violent. A protest is scheduled at Prince Edward MTR station from 1900. A2 Global Risk advises residents and visitors to avoid Prince Edward MTR station after 1830.
Over the weekend of 28-29 September activists in over 40 cities worldwide participated a ‘Global Anti-totalitarianism’ rally in solidarity with protesters in Hong Kong. The largest events were held in the US, UK, Western Europe and Australia and typically attracted several dozen to a few hundred participants, predominantly local members of the Hong Kong diaspora community. There were no reported instances of violence.
On Tuesday 1 October numerous governments including those of the US, UK and EU released statements calling for ‘de-escalation and restraint’ following the shooting of a protester with a live round. China condemned the statements as interference in its domestic affairs.
Friday 4 October
A ‘Central Emergency Regulation Procession’ is scheduled to be held in Chater Garden, Central and march along nearby streets from 1230 to protest against the introduction of emergency regulations.
A ‘Sing with You’ movement is planned in 18 shopping malls across Hong Kong at 2100 where activists will sing ‘Glory to Hong Kong’.
Saturday 5 October
A ‘Shop with You’ protest is scheduled to begin at 1300 in multiple shopping malls throughout Hong Kong including Luk Yeung Galleria, Maritime Square, Elements, Telford Plaza and PopCorn.
All Citizens Mask Day has been arranged to begin at 1500 at Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon in which participants will experiment with various ways to obscure their faces.
A ‘Hong Konger’s SOS Assembly’ calling for international humanitarian assistance will be held in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay between 1900 and 2200.
Sunday 6 October
A ‘Fight Against Police Brutality Assembly’ is scheduled to begin at Victoria Park, Causeway Bay at 1400.
Monday 7 October
A protest is scheduled between 1900 and 2100 at Prince Edward MTR Station in Kowloon.
PROTEST CHRONOLOGY 27 SEPTEMBER – 3 OCTOBER
Friday 27 September
Dozens of secondary students protested in Edinburgh Place, Central.
In the evening, thousands of people attended a rally in Edinburgh Place, Central, to accuse the police of abusing demonstrators detained at San Uk Ling holding centre in the New Territories.
Saturday 28 September
In the early evening tens of thousands of people gathered at Tamar Park, Admiralty to mark the fifth anniversary of the Occupy movement. Police directed pepper spray at protesters near the Central Government Complex. The main rally ended at 2030.
Protesters later occupied nearby Harcourt Road in Admiralty, throwing bricks and Molotov cocktails as well as directing laser pointers towards riot police. Police officers used water cannon, tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowd.
Separately, a group of protesters occupied Lung Wo Road and marched in the direction of Central until intercept by police water cannon.
Skirmishes occurred between protesters and riot police at Causeway Bay and Wan Chai, but no serious violence was reported.
Sunday 29 September
Protesters gathered in Causeway Bay in mid-afternoon for an illegal march. They initially occupied a section of Hennessy Road outside the Sogo department store, where police fired tear gas before the protesters began their march towards Admiralty.
Some activists threw petrol bombs and bricks at police deployed along Hennessey Road and outside the central government compound. Police responded with more tear gas, rubber bullets and a water cannon.
The protesters then pulled back towards Wan Chai, constructing numerous makeshift barricades and setting them alight. A group of protesters clashed with plainclothes officers on Johnston Road by Southorn Playground.
Police retreated to the Wan Chai MTR station and the protesters smashed the windows and hurled petrol bombs at the officers inside. Protesters also set fire to Admiralty and Causeway Bay MTR stations.
A plainclothes officer fired multiple live warning rounds near Wan Chai MTR Station.
At 1700 an Indonesian journalist was struck in the eye at close range in Wan Chai by what is alleged to have been either a police rubber bullet or beanbag round. Investigations into the source of the projectile are continuing.
After dark fighting broke out between protesters and members of the public in Causeway Bay, leading to multiple minor injuries.
Monday 30 September
In the early hours of the morning protesters gathered outside Mong Kok police station, where they set fires, threw petrol bombs and directed laser pointers at the police, who responded with multiple bean-bag rounds.
Around 1930 protesters and high school students gathered peacefully in the Tsim Sha Tsui harbour area along Nathan Road in Kowloon to form a ‘human chain.’
Tuesday 1 October
At 1300 protesters gathered near Sogo Department store in Causeway Bay and began an illegal march towards Central. Other activists also began an illegal march along Shing Mun River in Sha Tin, New Territories and an illegal march in Wong Tai Sin in Kowloon.
Around 1400 protesters occupied Sha Tsui Road in Tseun Wan in the New Territories, while police fired tear gas at activists in Wong Tai Sin.
By 1430 protesters had clashed with police along Hennessy Road in Causeway Bay and Wan Chai with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets. At the same and on the other side of the harbour protesters began marching from Sham Shui Po down Nathan Road in Kowloon.
By 1500 police had fired tear gas at protesters in Tsuen Wan, Lung Cheung Road in Wong Tai Sin and near Yuen Wo Road in Sha Tin, all in the New Territories. Violent clashes continued throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
Around the same time protesters occupied Festival Walk shopping mall in Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, causing minor damage to restaurants owned by the Maxim Group, which activists’ consider supportive of the government, leading some to close.
Police fired tear gas at protesters constructing barricades near the V City Mall in Tuen Mun around 1530. Violent clashes continued into the evening.
Around 1530 protesters vandalised Wan Chai MTR station and threw petrol bombs inside, before moving towards Admiralty where further clashes with police occurred.
At around 1600 police officers fired two live rounds as a warning, as well as firing tear gas rounds, in Nathan Road in Yamatei in Kowloon, as protester threw numerous petrol bombs and other projectiles.
At 1630 police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and deployed water cannon at protesters outside government headquarters in Admiralty. Protesters threw petrol bombs at police and at Admiralty MTR station before moving back towards Wan Chai and clashing with police in multiple locations along Hennessy Road.
Around 1700 police fired a live round that hit and seriously wounded an 18 year old protester in the chest near Tai Ho Road in Tsuen Wan, New Territories.
Around 1745 a plainclothes police officer fired a live round into the air near Southorn Playground, Wan Chai, after being attacked by a group of protesters.
Around 1900 a water cannon was deployed under the Canal Road East Flyover in Causeway Bay. Police fired tear gas in multiple locations along Hennessey Road and throughout Causeway Bay as protesters built multiple barricades and threw petrol bombs and other projectiles. Violent clashes continued throughout Causeway Bay into the night.
Wednesday 2 October
At 1230 hundreds of protesters gathered peacefully in Chater Garden, Central, in response to a police officer wounding of a protester with a live round the previous day. The protesters disrupted traffic along several main roads before occupying nearby malls including IFC and Exchange Square.
That evening thousands of protesters vandalised numerous MTR stations and built barricades in at least 10 communities throughout the New Territories. Police fired tear gas in Tsuen Wan after protesters vandalised the MTR station, built street barricades and attacked a China Mobile retail outlet. Other protesters threw petrol bombs in Tai Wo Hau, New Territories.
Thursday 3 October
Largely peaceful rallies were held in 11 communities throughout Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories after dark in protest over rumoured plans by the government to impose Emergency Regulations, including a ban on face masks during demonstrations.
At around 2200 police fired pepper spray and tear gas at protesters who had occupied King’s Road in Tai Koo on Hong Kong Island.