HK protests continue as China slams United Nations commissioner's remarks

A rally for students and elderly pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong on Nov 30 2019

A rally for students and elderly pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong on Nov 30 2019

On Saturday night police fired tear gas for the first time since the election as protesters blocked roads in the Mong Kok neighbourhood.

The protests have drawn in a wide swathe of Hong Kong society - from students to pensioners and office workers. The footage also showed rows of police vehicles tipped onto their sides.

"There are still five demands", he said, referring to protesters' calls that include an independent inquiry into police behavior and the implementation of universal suffrage.

Major protests are rare in China, where the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has little tolerance for dissent.

Pro-democracy protesters renewed pressure on the Hong Kong government by marching in three separate rallies across the city on Sunday, with one of them showing "gratitude" for USA support of the anti-government movement that has roiled the financial hub for almost six months.

Protesting being illegal without government approval, large-scale demonstrations against the central government are all but unheard of on the mainland in modern times.

On Saturday night a video in Mongkok district showed a protester brutally assaulting a man as he attempted to clear a barricade.

Hong Kong democracy supporters joined a March of Gratitude rally on Sunday to openly thank US lawmakers for backing their fight against Beijing rule and their desire to live in freedom not tyranny.

"I believe Hong Kong people will continue to take to the streets, otherwise the government may mistakenly believe that we have let go of our demands", she told AFP.

Shops and businesses in Tsim Sha Tsui closed early as police sprayed volleys of tear gas at demonstrators, including some elderly residents and others with their pets, as they marched past the city's Kowloon waterfront, home to luxury hotels and shopping malls.

Ahead of Sunday's rallies there were calls from organisers for people to remain "highly restrained" with fears of a return to the violence that has marked more recent months in the political crisis. Police said hundreds of "rioters" had hurled smoke bombs, "stirring up public fear and causing chaos" which forced them to fire tear gas.

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Marchers berated police as they scrambled to flee the tear gas, shouting "Dirty cops" and "Are you trying to kill us?"

Some protesters dug up paving stones and threw them on the street to try and slow the police down.

Hong Kong's protests have been relatively peaceful during the two weeks around the November 24 election but could turn violent again if the government doesn't bend to the demands.

While Mrs Lam has said she will accelerate dialogue, she has refused to offer any new concessions since the Nov 24 district council elections. Her government has accepted only one demand - withdrawing extradition legislation that would have sent suspects to mainland China for trial. "We must continue to stand out to remind the government of our unhappiness".

The two earlier marches yesterday appealed to US President Donald Trump for help and demanded that police stop using tear gas.

Demonstrators carried American flags and marched to the USA consulate on Sunday to thank America for approving the legislation. Police fired tear gas after 16,000 people showed up for a rally in the southern part of the city.

Some donned Trump logo hats and T-shirts as protesters unfurled a banner depicting the USA president standing astride a tank with a U.S. flag behind him.

At the other small rally, a peaceful crowd of about 200 adults and young children marched to government headquarters in the morning and chanted "No more tear gas".

"A lot of parents are anxious that their children are affected, because their children are coughing, breaking out in rashes and so forth", said social worker and march organiser Leo Kong.

The protesters are angry over creeping Chinese interference in Hong Kong that they say is eroding their rights promised when the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

China's United Nations mission in Geneva said the article interferes in China's internal affairs and exerts pressure on Hong Kong's government and police, which "will only embolden the rioters to conduct more severe radical violence".

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