Mass protests have caused the Hong Kong airport to cancel all departing flights and disrupted travel for a second straight day.
Inbound flights are unaffected and will continue as scheduled.
“Terminal operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted as a result of the public assembly at the airport today … airlines will provide arrangements for passengers who have not completed the departure process. Members of the public are advised not to come to the airport,” the airport authority said in a statement.
The pro-democracy movement was spawned in response to a proposed extradition bill that would allow Hong Kong citizens to be extradited to China to be tried for crimes. The bill has been suspended in response to the protests but the movement has evolved into something much larger and more demanding.
In a news conference with reporters on Tuesday morning, Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam looked visibly shaken as she pleaded with the protestors to “continue to live in a peaceful manner.”
“The stability and well-being of seven million people are in jeopardy,” Lam said, “Take a minute to think about that. Look at our city, our home. Do we really want to push our home to the abyss where it will be smashed into pieces?”
Protests Escalate Due to Police Violence
Hong Kong protestors and police have had ongoing violent clashes all summer as the protests grow. Police have used rubber bullets, tear gas, and bean bag rounds to disperse crowds. Sunday marked the 10th consecutive week of protests in Hong Kong.
Tensions boiled over on Sunday causing police to fire tear gas into a subway station and chase protestors down escalators. The violent confrontations were captured on video and posted to social media by protestors. A woman was hit in the right eye with a projectile during the violence and reportedly blinded. The Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily reported that the woman is a veterinary nurse.
The violence between protestors and police has been getting steadily worse as both sides have become entrenched and unwavering in their positions. The pro-democracy movement is demanding that Carrie Lam resign and want a full investigation into the use of force by police.
The airport protest is a direct response to what protestors view as excessive force utilized by police on Sunday.
During the press conference on Tuesday morning, several journalists interrupted Carrie Lam with questions about police misconduct and an innocent woman who was injured during the scuffle.
“Will you apologize to the girl?” said one reporter, referring to the injured veterinary nurse.
Other reporters yelled out questions about Lam’s response to the police violence prompting one of her officials to say “Sir, please do not interrupt.”
Carrie Lam appeared to be more emotional and rattled on Tuesday in comparison to previous press conferences.
Airport Protests Captured on Social Media
There were several videos posted showing the sit-in at the Hong Kong Airport. In a video posted by Fion Li which was captured by her brother who had just landed at the airport, you can see protestors chanting and obstructing passengers from getting to their gates.
Another video shows a policeman being surrounded and berated by protestors who demanded that he “returned the eye” of the woman who was injured in the violence on Sunday.
Protestors also argued with an Australian man who was angry that his flight was canceled.
“You are angry because your flight was canceled, that’s it!” said one of the protestors. “What would you do if it was your daughter?” They ask the man, referring to the woman who was injured on Sunday.
Protestors also banded together and started singing a song from Les Miserables. They chose the song because it was banned from streaming services by China.
More videos continue to come out of the airport protests. The situation has been peaceful so far.
Protestors Fight Back Against Triad Members
WARNING: Graphic Content
In July, supposed Chinese triad members donning white t-shirts, bats, poles, and other weapons began to appear in groups around Hong Kong and attack and attack Hong Kong protestors. They were targeting anybody in a black t-shirt, the preferred uniform of the Hong Kong protestors.
It is suspected but has not been confirmed that the violent gangs were members of the Chinese Triad gang. The police response was slow during the violent attacks against protestors, leading many of the protesters to claim that the state was cooperating with China to break up the protests.
Multiple calls to 999 (Hong Kong’s emergency number) did not go through or were not answered. Police arrived in every case after the violence had taken place and the attackers had vanished.
Last week, violent gangs attempted to attack protestors again. This time, the protestors were ready and responded in kind.
WARNING: Extremely Graphic Content
Click here to watch the video.
In the video, you can see the protestors catch a few of the protestors who broke away from the group and beat them repeatedly with sticks, pipes, and other heavy objects. Other protestors step in to stop the violence before the attackers are killed by the mobs. The video also shows the men in white shirts receiving medical attention.
The protests at the airport continue to shut down operations at one of the busiest airports in the world.