Court order against Hong Kong airport protests extended ahead of more planned rallies

Thousands flooded Hong Kong airport on Monday afternoon, leading to the cancellation of all passenger flights for the rest of the day. Photo: Felix Wong. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.


HONG KONG, Aug 23, 2019, The Straits Times. Ahead of more planned protests this weekend, the temporary court order that restricts sit-in protests in the city’s airport has been extended to prevent a repeat of the shutdown last week, reported The Straits Times.

On Friday (Aug 23), the High Court allowed an extension of last week’s injunction that gives the Airport Authority the right to clear protesters, except for those in designated areas.

Judge Wilson Chan, who granted the extension, noted that calls have been made to disrupt traffic to the airport on Saturday. Given the turmoil and immeasurable impact on the airport and Hong Kong’s global reputation, he said he has no qualms about extending the order until further notice.

On Aug 14, the airport operator said it obtained an interim injunction to “restrain persons from unlawfully and wilfully obstructing or interfering with the proper use of Hong Kong International Airport”.

This came after police and protesters clashed at Terminal 1 on the night of Aug 13, following incidents of two men being accosted.

Two men were attacked after protesters accused them of being undercover mainland agents. Of the two, one was found to be a reporter from the state-run media Global Times.

The pair were eventually escorted out of the airport by paramedics and taken away in ambulances.

Hong Kong’s international airport, one of the world’s busiest, was forced to close temporarily last week, with hundreds of flights cancelled or rescheduled when protesters and police clashed.

Separately, the case of the two men charged with rioting for their alleged participation in the July 21 Yuen Long attacks, will be heard in a Fanling court on Friday afternoon.

The two men, aged 48 and 54, were charged on Thursday and are the first among the 28 people arrested following the July 21 attacks, to be formally charged with any offence. Most were arrested for illegal assembly.

The unrest in Hong Kong has entered its 11th week, with protests escalating in June over anger against a now-suspended extradition Bill proposed by Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam.

But the anger has morphed into a wider movement for universal suffrage and an inquiry into what anti-government protesters say is the police’s abuse of power, among other things.

The uncertainty and violence over more than two months have taken a toll on the city’s economy, with analysts expecting tourism, retail and even the ever-skyrocketing property prices to fall.

A week ago, Financial Secretary Paul Chan warned of a waning economy, saying gross domestic product will grow between 0 and 1 per cent this year, down from a previous forecast of 2 to 3 per cent.

The city saw some respite on the 11th straight weekend of protests on Aug 17 and 18, which were largely peaceful, as protesters young and old sent Mrs Lam and her administration a clear message that they have no trust or confidence in her government.

Mrs Lam invited 20 to 30 prominent figures to a meeting on Saturday to discuss her proposal to set up a platform for dialogue but this has been dismissed by the protesters who said their demands are clear.

Multiple protests are planned for Friday, including a march by accountants to government headquarters and a “Baltic Chain” event where protesters are to join hands across different districts.

Also dubbed the “Hong Kong Way”, it took inspiration from the 1989 move, where some two million people joined arms across three Baltic states in a protest against Soviet Union rule which became known as the Baltic Way or Baltic Chain.

Besides calls for a non-cooperation campaign to jam up the transportation network and the airport on Saturday, there will be a march in Kwun Tong in the afternoon and another gathering in Chater Garden in the evening.

On Sunday, an assembly of police officers’ families is planned for 2pm, while messages circulating via social media urged people to gather at Kwai Fong South Bus Terminus for a march at 3pm.

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