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Hong Kong protests: Hundreds march in Sham Shui Po despite police ban while thousands gather at Victoria Park

Aug 11, 2019

Central [Hong Kong] August 11: Hundreds of protesters started marching from the Maple Street Playground in Sham Shui Po on Sunday (Aug 11) afternoon despite a police ban on the anti-extradition march, as Hong Kong braces for the 10th consecutive weekend of protests.
The main thoroughfare of Cheung Sha Wan Road was taken over by protesters, which police said was an illegal assembly. The march is expected to end at Sham Shui Po Sports Ground.
Local TV footage showed the protesters, mostly dressed in black, shouting slogans such as "Hong Kong police, know the law and yet break the law".
The slogan was in reference to alleged police collusion with local triads, after a July 21 attack on protesters and commuters at Yuen Long MTR station by white-clad men said to be linked to triads. Protesters said that police were slow to respond to calls for help on that night. The police have denied the allegation of collusion.
In a statement released around 4pm, police appealed to the protesters in Sham Shui Po to "leave as soon as possible".
Over in Causeway Bay on Sunday, thousands of people have turned up at Victoria Park for a police-approved rally. Organiser of the rally said it has deployed 60 marshals to maintain order at the gathering that has been scheduled to end at 5pm, but it stressed that it has no control over what happens outside the park, RTHK reported.
"The police should try their best to maintain public security instead of rejecting our request to march," a 25-year-old protester who gave only her family name, Wong, told Agence France-Presse.
"We'll see if we feel like marching later. We won't worry that much about illegal assembly. We still have our rights," she said.
Anti-government protests were planned in different locations in the Asian financial hub on Sunday, including one at the city's international airport for a third day, Reuters reported.
The fresh protests on Sunday came after a night of cat-and-mouse demonstrations around the city, with protesters taking their mantra of flexible action - "Be Water" - to new heights.
Police said on Sunday they had arrested 16 people during the protests on Saturday for unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapon, assaulting a police officer and obstructing a police officer in the execution of duties. Authorities have arrested more than 600 people since the protests escalated in June.
In a statement on Sunday, the Hong Kong government strongly condemned protesters' acts on Saturday night, stressing that their behaviour "are not only illegal but also disregarding public order and the needs of other members of the public".
Police have not given permission for the two marches planned on Sunday: in the working class Sham Shui Po district in Kowloon (from Maple Street Playground to Sham Shui Po Sports Ground), and in North Point on Hong Kong Island (from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to Java Road Playground in North Point).
The rally at Victoria Park, however, has been allowed by the police.
Several leisure and public facilities have planned to close during the afternoon when the protests are expected.
Meanwhile, large water barriers have been placed around Sham Shui Po police station in anticipation of attacks from protesters as seen in previous demonstrations. Bricks in brick-laid pavement near the police station have also been glued together to prevent protesters from digging them up for use as projectiles during protests, broadcaster TVB reported.
In North Point, a huge netting has been draped over the lower storeys of the police station to protect the building.
Rubbish bins in Sham Shui Po have been chained to railings, RTHK reported. In previous clashes with police, protesters had set fire to rubbish bins used as part of their barricades on the streets.
Protesters have increasingly adopted flash tactics, playing a cat and mouse game with police to evade capture.
Young people have been at the forefront of recent protests, worried about the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong, while also concerned with issues such as wealth disparities in the city.
Elderly people have also been appearing. On Saturday in two separate protests, small groups of elderly Hong Kongers and families marched near the financial centre's business districts, Reuters reported.
Both marches and the airport protests were peaceful.
Increasingly violent protests have plunged Hong Kong into its most serious political crisis for decades, posing a serious challenge to the central government in Beijing who has taken an increasingly tough line on the protests.
China has said that the central government would not sit idly by and let the situation continue. Hong Kong's government has also said the violence and illegal protests were pushing the city to an extremely dangerous edge.
In a latest warning, Beijing's ambassador to the European Union, Mr Zhang Ming, said that the protests in Hong Kong cannot continue.
"Hong Kong is part of China. The Chinese people would not allow the situation to get out of control... Some people are violating the basic law, they are playing (with) fire," said Mr Zhang, as quoted by Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK on Sunday.
China has also targeted the city's corporate giants, demanding that the city's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific Airways suspend staff involved in the demonstrations.
The airline told staff on Saturday it would bar any "overly radical" employees from crewing flights to the mainland and said it had removed a pilot who was arrested at protests last week from duty, according to Reuters.
The former British colony of Hong Kong is roiling from months of protests that began against a proposed Bill to allow people to be extradited to stand trial in various jurisdiction, including mainland China, and have developed into calls for greater democracy.
Source: Strait Times