Hundreds of flights were cancelled at Hong Kong Airport on Tuesday 13 August after a surge of protestors who are rallying against a proposed extradition law that is currently under suspension barricaded themselves inside two airport terminals for two days in a row
“Airport operations at Hong Kong International Airport have been seriously disrupted … all flights have been cancelled. All passengers are advised to leave the terminal buildings as soon as possible,” the city’s airport authority said in a statement on Tuesday.
But as of Wednesday, protestor numbers have dwindled, and flights are beginning to resume at the Airport - Hong Kong’s Airport Authority said it had obtained an interim injunction against protesters to keep them from returning to disrupt the airport.
The same day, the Chinese Liaison Office in Hong Kong released a statement saying that the demonstrators ‘took off the so-called mask of peaceful, reasonable and non-violent protest and paralysed the airport by obstructing, insulting and attacking passengers’.
Reports of last night’s events at the airport reveal that two people were ‘harassed and assaulted’ by the protestors, kept on suspicion that the individuals were posing as undercover police officers. The local police noted that these were later revealed to be a ‘visitor and a journalist’. One of which was reportedly unconscious and eventually evacuated by paramedics.
“What is even more distressing is that on the evening of the 13th, the extreme violent force surrounded, body searched, illegally imprisoned and brutally beat a Global Times reporter at the scene as well as a Shenzhen resident who was in transit at the Hong Kong airport," the statement from the Chinese Liaison Office detailed.
Having begun on 9 June after the government considered instating an extradition law that would see people extradited into mainland China's supposedly unscrupulous justice system, the Hong Kong protests are now in their 10th week, and the latest turn of events marks some of the fiercer clashes between police and the protesters. Protestors are also calling for the resignation of Hong Kong’s Leader, Carrie Lam, who has warned that the protests have set Hong Kong on a ‘path of no return’.
Now, with the Chinese Liaison Office calling the protests ‘lawless’ and ‘no different to terrorists’, the Chinese Government is reportedly moving troops to the Hong Kong border.
Meanwhile, pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo was not so quick to condemn the airport protests as ‘violent’. “We did not know who initiated, who stopped passengers going through immigration,” she reasoned. Mo added that the protestors are young people who are ‘fighting for democracy’.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board revealed that preliminary figures have shown a ‘double-digit decline’ in tourism during the second half of July. And several countries have issued heightened travel advisories due to the ‘confrontational’ nature of the protests.
On their website, the Hong Kong Tourism Board states: “Airport Authority Hong Kong is working with airlines on rescheduling flights, with flight movements expected to be affected. Visitors are advised to check with airlines, the airport’s website or the HKG My Flight mobile app for the latest flight information and allow sufficient time for travelling to the airport.”