Thousands Form Human Chain Across City: Hong Kong Update

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-23/airport-court-order-against-protests-extended-hong-kong-update

Demonstrators join hands to form a human chain during the Hong Kong Way event on Friday.

Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg

Hong Kong protesters are gearing up for a 12th straight weekend of demonstrations that have
rocked the former British colony
and raised questions about its future as a regional financial hub.

Demonstrators are looking to maintain momentum after large but peaceful protests last weekend broke a pattern of tear gas and police clashes. New rallies kicked off Friday afternoon, and as night fell, demonstrators tried to form a human chain across the city. Historic mass marches opposing legislation easing extraditions to China began peacefully in June, and have since widened into a broader movement against Beijing’s increasing grip.

Here’s the latest:

Human Chain Protest on Baltic Way Anniversary (9:33 p.m.)

Friday’s protest comes on the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way, when about 2 million people in the countries now known as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania formed a human chain stretching 676 kilometers. That demonstration was meant to peacefully protest the forceful incorporation of their countries into the Soviet Union, paving the way for the three nations to regain independence over the following two years.

“I think that the whole world is attentively following along, and I think that a lot of people in our countries have a known empathy for those people who have expressed their desire to strengthen freedom, democracy and independence,” Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said on Friday in Riga.

“The Hong Kong Way”

Protesters Chant ‘Stand With Hong Kong’ (8:47 p.m.)

Thousands of protesters lined the streets of Hong Kong, holding hands to form a human chain across the city. Some yelled, “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” A group headed up to the iconic Lion Rock peak, while others took to tourist hotspots and the business district.


U.K. Hasn’t Heard From Consulate Staffer (2:59 p.m.)

The U.K. consulate general in Hong Kong
said
it hasn’t yet been able to make contact with detained consulate employee Simon Cheng, 28, despite efforts to raise his case “repeatedly in China, Hong Kong and London.” “We continue to urgently seek further information about Simon’s case,” the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement. The Communist Party’s Global Times newspaper reported Thursday that the staffer, Simon Cheng, had been put in administrative detention on suspicion of soliciting prostitutes, citing Shenzhen police. Cheng’s family hit back at the report, writing on Facebook on Thursday that “everyone can take this as a joke.” Cheng told the police not to notify his family about his detention, the newspaper alleged.

Accountants on the March (2:22 p.m.)

A small group of accountants protested at centrally located Chater Garden during lunchtime. Wearing face masks and holding umbrellas, they marched peacefully and silently to the city’s nearby government headquarters. “Hong Kong people have come out for two months already. We are very tired. We want a stable environment, we want the economy back,” said Keenan Chuk, 30, a manager in the accounting field. Chuk, who wore a yellow helmet, called on the government to take action instead of waiting and prolonging the unrest.

Airport’s Protest Injunction Extended (11:14 a.m.)

A Hong Kong court extended the Airport Authority’s court order barring protests, broadcaster Cable TV reported. The authority obtained the temporary injunction last week to stop protesters from “unlawfully and willfully” obstructing or interfering with the proper use of the airport, following two straight days of sit-ins by thousands of protesters that shut down regular services and left frustrated passengers stranded and delayed. Protesters are planning fresh actions at the airport this weekend.

Canadian Consulate Suspends China Travel (11:04 a.m.)

Canada’s local consulate staff won’t make business trips outside of Hong Kong, the country’s consulate general said, after Cheng’s detention. Michael Kovrig, a Hong Kong-based security analyst on leave from Canada’s foreign service, has been jailed in China on espionage charges since December.

Cathay Dragon Crew Union Leader Out (8:43 a.m.)

The union leader for cabin crew of airline Cathay Dragon has been removed, the South China Morning Post
reported
. Rebecca Sy, chairwoman of Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Flight Attendants’ Association, was given the choice of resigning or being fired, it said. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions described her case as “white terror,” according to the Post. The union will hold a 1 p.m. press conference to discuss the issue.

The airline’s parent,

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., also cautioned staff that social media posts could breach rules set by Chinese authorities as the carrier worked to contain official blow back after some employees took part in protests. The airline
said
that posting, responding and sharing some content on social platforms could go against demands issued this month by the Civil Aviation Administration of China. “Any employee who participates in illegal activities will be subject to an investigation process which may lead to termination of their employment,” it said.

Upcoming Schedule

Christians will rally in the garden in the evening. Thousands of people are expected at “human chain” protest that will see them join hands in areas across Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories.

On Saturday, protesters plan a morning “airport transport infrastructure” disruption, including potentially blocking roads, followed by an afternoon march in the Kwun Tong area of Kowloon.

The weekend will conclude with Sunday protests in the Tsuen Wan and Kwai Chung areas, starting mid-afternoon. Relatives of police also plan a march to the official residence of Hong Kong chief executive, Carrie Lam, in support of local law enforcement.

— With assistance by Kyunghee Park, Iain Marlow, and Justin Chin

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