Hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters who returned to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday, October 20 were violently dispersed by police tear gas and water cannon filled with stinging blue dye, for defying a ban on assembly before being.
A police water cannon blasted protesters along a major thoroughfare in Kowloon. It also hit a small group standing guard outside a mosque — an important spiritual nexus for the city’s largely South Asian Muslim community — leaving bystanders choking and vomiting and eliciting a rare apology from authorities, Washington Post reported.
The huge turnout, estimated by organizers at around 350,000 and including families, children and the elderly, showed that the movement maintains widespread support in the face of the increasingly violent tactics of protesters and the escalating use of force by police.
Marchers made a sea of colored umbrellas through the narrow streets of the city’s Kowloon area, which are lined with malls and international hotels. Some waved Catalonian flags in solidarity with the independence protests in that region of Spain.
In contrast to previous demonstrations, tensions escalated quickly, with clashes erupting long before sunset. By late afternoon, protesters were throwing molotov cocktails and bricks at police stations.
Protesters vandalized businesses viewed as supporting Beijing, threw molotov cocktails at police stations, set barricades on fire and smashed up subway stations in chaotic scenes that have become familiar to the city after five months of sustained protest.
In a statement released just after midnight, the government said police had intercepted a vehicle “with a large number of petrol bombs,” and “suspected explosive items” were found around the city. There were no reports that any explosives were detonated.
“Members of the public should not fall foul of the law by participating in unauthorised processions and assemblies in order not to give rioters the chance to commit crimes,” the government said.
The months of protests began in opposition to a bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. The Hong Kong government said the legislation, since withdrawn, was in response to a brutal murder of a young Hong Kong woman by her boyfriend in Taiwan. He has since voluntarily surrendered to Taiwanese authorities, despite the lack of the extradition treaty. (Source: Washington Post)