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Thursday, 24 October 2019

Hong Kong: 100 days of huge rallies, violent clashes

AFP , Monday 16 Sep 2019
Hong Kong: 100 days of huge rallies, violent clashes
File Photo: Thousands of Hong Kong protesters marched earlier this summer to call for the full withdrawal of an extradition bill which was later withdrawn by the government. (AFP)
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Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests erupted into violence 100 days ago, plunging the former British colony into its most severe crisis since it reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

Here is an overview:

- Clashes -

In the territory's biggest demonstration since 1997, more than a million people, according to organisers, march on June 9 to protest a draft government bill that would allow extradition to mainland China.

Violence erupts when pockets of protesters fight running battles with police.

A new demonstration on June 12 sees the worst clashes since the handover.

Police use tear gas, rubber bullets and batons against demonstrators; dozens are injured and one protester dies falling from a roof.

- Two million protesters -

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam suspends work on the bill on June 15 but a demonstration the next day calls for its full withdrawal.

Organisers say two million people take part in a city of 7.3 million.

On July 1, the anniversary of Hong Kong's return to China, hundreds of protesters smash their way into parliament and ransack the building.

Eight days later Lam says the extradition bill "is dead". But she refuses to withdraw it and protesters dismiss her gesture, fearful the bill could be resurrected if protests die down.

- Authorities get tough -

On July 21 riot police fire tear gas and rubber bullets after China's office in the city is daubed with eggs and graffiti, sparking a furious reaction from Beijing.

Masked, stick-wielding government supporters -- suspected to be triad gangsters -- descend on protesters in a train station, beating many.

Already seething anger against police is compounded by accusations they were too slow to respond to the attack and failed to arrest the aggressors on site.

July 27 and 28 see running battles between riot police and protesters.

The local authorities and Beijing toughen their stance and dozens are arrested.

Despite warnings from the Chinese military, there is an eighth consecutive weekend of demonstrations on August 3-4 with police stations targeted.

On August 5 a strike brings the city to a standstill. For a third night, police confront protesters.

- Airport chaos -

Hong Kong's airport cancels flights on August 12 after being invaded by thousands of black-clad protesters.

On August 15 thousands of Chinese military personnel parade in Shenzhen, just across the border.

A march of about 1.7 million people on August 18 passes off peacefully.

- First gun shot -

On August 25 police for the first time use water cannon and fire a warning shot after clashes in which protesters throw bricks and Molotov cocktails.

Several prominent democracy activists are arrested on August 30.

On August 31 tens of thousands march in an unsanctioned rally, a hardcore group hurling petrol bombs. Police fire tear gas and water cannon in some of the most intense clashes to date.

- Law shelved -

On September 4 Lam says the extradition bill is withdrawn. But the move is dismissed by activists whose campaign has broadened to demand greater democratic freedoms, police accountability and amnesty for the more than 1,000 arrested activists.

On September 6 thousands hold new rallies; police fire tear gas and rubber bullets against a few hundred outside a police station.

- Going abroad -

On September 8 activists march to the US consulate, with radicals later clashing with riot police.

Leading activist Joshua Wong goes to Germany to rally support -- prompting an angry reaction from China -- and then to the United States.

Underscoring the tension in the city, democracy activists and Beijing supporters exchange blows on September 14. Several people on both sides are bloodied and bruised after a fight in a mall.

On September 15, the 99th day of the revolt, tens of thousands of people defy authorities for an unsanctioned rally.

At Britain's consulate they demand London's protection and that it ramps up pressure on Beijing over sliding freedoms.

Small groups attack the main government complex, hurling Molotov cocktails and rocks over security barriers. Police fire tear gas and deploy water cannon trucks.

Renewed brawls also break out in the evening between rival political camps with multiple people left bloodied and hospitalised.

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