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Pro-Democracy Protesters Block Hong Kong Airport, Flights Cancelled


Anti-extradition bill demonstrators attend a protest at the departure hall of Hong Kong Airport, China August 12, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Pro-democracy Protesters Block Hong Kong Airport, Flights Cancelled
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Hong Kong International Airport cancelled all flights after thousands of pro-democracy protesters filled its main terminal on Monday.

The airport’s website advised all passengers to leave the building. It said that the demonstration “seriously disrupted” airport operations.

China’s central government is closely watching developments in Hong Kong. The government described the largely leaderless pro-democracy movement as something close to “terrorism.”

The airport demonstration followed unrest Sunday night in the former British territory.

Protesters blocked roads and ignored police orders to leave early Monday after riot police used tear gas to and rubber bullets to clear away crowds.

Many people were reported injured in several areas. One medical volunteer reportedly was hit in the eye with ammunition. Some news reporters said they were beaten. Protesters were attacked with sticks on trains in an incident similar to what happened a few weeks ago in the Yuen Long area.

The government said that 54 people were injured. About 30 people were sent to the hospital, two of whom were in serious condition, the Hospital Authority said.

The unrest continues

Police said protesters ignored an unusual ban on street marches last weekend. Some demonstrators threw bricks and fuel bombs at officers, officials said.

Demonstrators said that police seemed to show a firm desire to clear the streets. Officers reportedly fired tear gas inside an enclosed train station. In another area, police wearing black clothing and masks suddenly started arresting protesters. The action made some demonstrators believe that police had infiltrated their movement.

Much of the violence was broadcast or streamed live by news media.

This is the tenth week of protests in the territory. They began as an effort to stop legislation that would require Hong Kong to send criminal suspects to mainland China for trial. Now protesters are demanding reforms, including more democratic elections and controls on the police.

Since the protests began in June, demonstrators have blocked a major tunnel through Victoria Harbor. And on August 5th, protesters held a labor and transportation strike.

Last Friday, police denied several requests for peaceful marches in several parts of the city. They noted that the level of violence had increased. Many considered the denial unusual. However, government opponents marched anyway.

One protestor, Joy Luk, a lawyer, said, “We are angry the government did not listen to us.” She added, “We have the right to peaceful assemblies.”

The unrest is the worst to take place in the territory since Britain returned control of Hong Kong to China in 1997. As part of that agreement, Hong Kong operates under a “one country, two systems” principle. It promises Hong Kongers democratic rights that people on the mainland do not have. Many of the protesters say they are angry that China appears to be taking away some of those rights.

I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.

Mario Ritter adapted this story from VOA News for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

brick – n. a small block used in building

infiltrate – v. to secretly enter or join a group in order to get information or do harm

streamed – adj. to broadcast directly from an personal electronic device such as a phone

tunneln. an underground passageway

principle – n. a law or fact of nature that forms the basis of something

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