Friday, November 22

HK anti-govt protests show no signs of easing

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A correctional services van transporting Leung leaves the High Court following an appeal hearing for his period of sentence in Hong Kong. — AFP photo

HONG KONG: Hundreds of black clad pro-democracy demonstrators outside Hong Kong’s High Court yesterday chanted “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times”, as a leading activist appeared to appeal a six-year jail sentence for rioting in 2016.

The court’s walls were scrawled with graffiti reading: “History will absolve us”, “If we burn you burn with us” and “No turn back 4HK”.

The Asian financial hub is struggling to recover from a weekend of violent clashes between police and tens of thousands of protesters, with parts of the city virtually cut off due to a paralysed metro that was a target of vandalism.

Scores of shops were boarded up after also being trashed or torched, and more protests are expected in coming days.

Some streets were littered with broken glass and twisted metal debris from the protests.

The protests started four months ago in opposition to a now withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to be sent to China, but have broadened into a pro-democracy movement amid fear that Beijing is undermining Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” formula, which gives residents greater freedom than mainland Chinese.

Edward Leung, 27, one of the leaders of a movement advocating independence from China, and two other activists, in 2016 received the harshest sentences handed down to pro-democracy leaders since the city returned to Chinese rule.

In his appeal, Leung’s lawyer argued his sentence was disproportionate to his offence, citing other more violent protesters receiving lighter sentences.

His case was adjourned on Wednesday ahead of judgment.

Outside the court hundreds of protesters wore black masks in defiance of colonial-era emergency laws banning face coverings, which were brought in on Friday to quell the unrest but which have incited more violent protests.

Hong Kong’s embattled leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday did not rule out asking Beijing for help to end the unrest, with Hong Kong’s economy hit hard by the protests and facing its first recession in a decade.

More than 2,300 people have been arrested since June, while two teenagers have been shot and wounded in skirmishes with police. Scores of people, including police, have been injured. — Reuters