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August 23, 2019

Chaos at Hong Kong airport as protesters clash with police after disrupting flights for second day

August 13, 2019

Protesters use luggage trolleys to block the walkway to the departure gates during a demonstration at the Airport in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. (Vincent Yu/AP)

The second straight day of demonstrations in one of the busiest airports in the world ended in violence as Hong Kong’s riot police clashed with pro-democracy protesters late Tuesday night.

Armed with pepper spray, shields and batons, officers cracked down on defiant protesters after numerous flights were disrupted or canceled. Thousands of demonstrators had blocked passengers from moving through terminals by barricading gate entrances with luggage carts.

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Police scuffle with pro-democracy protestors at Hong Kong's International Airport on August 13, 2019.
Police scuffle with pro-democracy protestors at Hong Kong’s International Airport on August 13, 2019. (MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Disturbing footage shared on social media showed cops hitting protesters with batons, while at least one video showed a group of demonstrators attacking an officer.

Police said they stormed Hong Kong International Airport after protesters allegedly detained a man they believed to be an undercover agent for Beijing.

Airport officials told passengers at 5 p.m., local time, that terminal operations had been “seriously disrupted” and all check-in services had been suspended.

“All passengers are advised to leave the terminal buildings as soon as possible,” they wrote in a statement.

It was not clear how many flights were canceled, but the airport’s website listed multiple cancellations for departing and arriving flights. On Monday, the first day of demonstrations at the airport, more than 200 flights were canceled.

The airport protests follow 10 weeks of demonstrations across Hong Kong over concerns that the Chinese government has been gradually taking away basic freedoms they were promised in 1997, when Britain handed the territory over to mainland China. The special administrative region is one of the world’s leading financial hubs.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the recent instability and violence have put the city on a “path of no return.” Beijing, meanwhile, has described the movement as “terrorism” and an “existential threat” to the population.

An injured man who was suspected by protestors of being a Chinese spy is taken away by paramedics at Hong Kongs international airport on Tuesday.
An injured man who was suspected by protestors of being a Chinese spy is taken away by paramedics at Hong Kongs international airport on Tuesday. (ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images)

The United Nations’ Human Rights Office issued a statement Tuesday urging authorities not to use violence against peaceful protesters. The statement cites footage showing cops firing tear gas canisters “into crowded, enclosed areas and directly at individual protesters on multiple occasions.”

“The Office urges the Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region) authorities to act with restraint, to ensure that the right of those who are expressing their views peacefully are respected and protected, while ensuring that the response by law enforcement officials to any violence that may take place is proportionate and in conformity with international standards on the use of force, including the principles of necessity and proportionality,” spokesman Rupert Colville wrote.

A medical staffer helps a detained man, who protesters claimed was a police officer from mainland China, during a demonstration at the Airport in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019.
A medical staffer helps a detained man, who protesters claimed was a police officer from mainland China, during a demonstration at the Airport in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. (Kin Cheung/AP)

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, President Trump offered a vague and apparently neutral remark.

“The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation, very tough,” he said. “We’ll what see what happens, but I’m sure it’ll work out. I hope it works out for everybody, including China, by the way.”

With News Wire Services

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