Hong Kong enters 12th week of protests with tear gas, subway closures

Riot police swept through a residential neighbourhood in eastern Hong Kong late Saturday as anti-government protesters attempted to stay one step ahead after engaging in earlier clashes.

It marked a violent start to yet another weekend of protests as anti-government demonstrations enter their 12th consecutive week.

More than 100 officers with shields appeared in a residential area of eastern Kowloon around 7.00 p.m. (1100 GMT) to reinforce a crowd dispersal operation after pushing back protesters from an industrial district.

Police marched through traffic as residents attempted to continue with ordinary activities on Saturday night.

Earlier, police and protesters saw heavy clashes in the nearby industrial district of Kowloon after a peaceful and sanctioned march ended prematurely at a local police station.

The Kwun Tong industrial district, with a number of housing estates nearby, was chosen as a rally site on Saturday by anti-government protesters as it has piloted advanced CCTV cameras.

Protester David Chan said many were “afraid the Hong Kong government will use this camera to monitor people’’ in a similar manner as security services in mainland China.

CCTV footage has also been used in the past as evidence during the prosecutions of democracy activists.

On Saturday afternoon, protesters quickly built barricades and dozens of rounds of tear gas were fired before sundown after bricks and water bottles were thrown at police.

Petrol bombs were also reportedly used by protesters while police fired back with several rounds of tear gas, according to reports on social media.

While anti-government protesters have developed nimble techniques to evade police in recent weeks, the city’s MTR subway line controversially closed several stations near where protests were planned on Saturday, making it difficult for many to leave the area.

The decision follows a court injunction issued on Friday night to prevent protests from taking place in MTR stations.

The subway system has played a critical role in Hong Kong’s anti-government demonstrations as a means for protesters to quickly evade the police.

It has also seen protesters disrupt train service during peak service periods in an act of civil disobedience.

Protester Katrina Cheng said she thought the MTR Corporation had bowed to pressure from the “government and the Chinese Communist Party’’.

“I think they are under huge pressure but I don’t think they should give in because at the end they need to be of service to the Hong Kong people,’’ she said.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, is a special administrative region of China with a significant degree of autonomy.

At the time of the handover in 1997, Beijing said it would give Hong Kong special rights and privileges for 50 years.

Mass protests began on June 9 against a legislative bill that would have allowed for criminal extradition to mainland China, which has a separate legal system from Hong Kong.

Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam, said earlier this week that she was open to creating a “platform for dialogue” with protesters although she offered few details on how to carry out the plan.

Protesters remained sceptical as they said Lam met with student leaders during the 2014 democracy protests only for several of them to later end up in jail.

“Last time there were demonstrations … we spoke with her and the leaders got arrested.

“That’s what we expect,’’ said protester Carlson Au.

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