Battle for democracy rages on

POLICE repeatedly fired tear gas after tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators brought a main Central (中環) road to a standstill, dramatically escalating protests and precipitating a rally that eclipsed the National Day holidays.

Throughout last week, thousands were massed in the streets of Admiralty near government headquarters. Protesters also gathered in Causeway Bay (銅鑼灣) and Nathan Road (彌敦道), Kowloon (九龍).

Earlier, police fired at least 10 canisters of tear gas, which was last used in Hong Kong in 2005, as chaos reigned.

The effect of the gas was immediate. White gas filled the air after loud cracking sounds were heard. Protesters ran from the cordon of police, who wore helmets, goggles and gas masks. But when visibility returned minutes later, the protesters came back, each time more prepared.

The Federation of Students (專上學生聯會) set out an ultimatum that if the government did not respond to the protests by Wednesday morning, classroom boycotts would be extended “forever”.

The Confederation of Trade Unions’ (職工會聯盟) Lee Cheuk-yan (李卓人) urged workers to go on strike on Tuesday. Police released tear gas near the City Hall (大會堂) in Central on Sunday night as the protests at Beijing’s (北京) hard line on Hong Kong democracy were spreading.

Ten men and four women were taken to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital (東區尤德夫人那打素醫院), Queen Mary Hospital (瑪麗醫院) and Ruttonjee Hospital (律敦治醫院) for treatment.

The escalation came after hours of a standoff between the police and protesters of Occupy Central (佔領中環) at the entrance to Tim Mei Avenue (添美道) in Tamar (添馬艦), which organisers pledged to seize as part of their civil disobedience movement.

Before the first pepper spray was used, Commissioner of Police (警務處處長) Andy Tsang Wai-hung (曾偉雄) told a media briefing, “I believe to try to tie acts of violence to whether or not one is armed is a rather unwise proposition.”

At 4pm on Monday, thousands of protesters marched west from Gloucester Road (告士打道) in Wan Chai (灣仔) and began taking over the traffic lanes in Connaught Road Central (干諾道中), Admiralty (金鐘).

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying called on protest leaders to withdraw their followers immediately.

(The Standard, Jasmine Siu, Kenneth Lau and Eddie Luk,

29 September, 2014)