Hundreds of thousands took to the streets in Hong Kong in the afternoon of Aug. 3 in another peaceful protest against the now-suspended extradition bill.
Violent confrontations between police and protesters broke out in the evening, with police announcing in the early hours of Aug. 4 that more than 20 people had been arrested for offenses such as unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons, and assault.
The afternoon protest in Mong Kok, an area in Kowloon, began with a rally at Anchor Street Playground before protesters set off on a march to Cherry Street Park.
Among those joining the rally was pro-democracy lawmaker Helena Wong, who told the Hong Kong bureau of The Epoch Times that the extradition bill was an “evil law”—one that would hurt the “one country, two systems” model.
The model is currently used in Hong Kong. It was devised as an agreement that would preserve the former British colony’s autonomy and freedoms after sovereignty was handed back to China in 1997.
The ongoing protest in Hong Kong stems from fears that locals could be extradited to the mainland to be trialed in China’s courts that are notorious for their disregard of the rule of law.
“We are all hoping that the peaceful rallies, marches, and strikes that we are holding will put pressure on the Hong Kong government so that it will respond to citizens’ demands,” Wong said. “We believe [Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam] cannot simply drag her feet and hope that all the problems go away.”
Organizers said that about 120,000 took part in the Mong Kok march, while police said that only 4,200 people turned out for the event.
The march reiterated the five demands that protesters have been calling for since early July, including a full withdrawal of the extradition bill, the dropping of all charges against arrested protesters, the establishing of an independent commission to investigate the police’s use of force, and universal suffrage.
Ng Wing-tak, the march’s organizer, explained that the police initially rejected his application to hold the march but the rejection was overturned by an appeal board on Aug. 2.
“That was the first time that a police’s objection was overturned,” Ng said in an interview with the Hong Kong bureau of the New York-based broadcaster NTD on Aug. 3.
One of the march participants told NTD: “If we stop coming out, our future is doomed. We persist in taking to the streets for our [future] and for the future of Hong Kong.”
Another protester told NTD that she couldn’t understand why the Hong Kong government had continually refused to directly engage with their demands.
Following the march, some protesters decided to continue with their protest.
In an act of civil disobedience, some protesters temporarily blocked major roads in the Yau Tsim Mong district in Kowloon, including the Cross-Harbour Tunnel—a major road connecting Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon peninsula.
Throughout the night, other protesters were seen surrounding various locations in Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui, a shopping and nightlife district in Kowloon. According to Hong Kong media, police fired rounds of tear gas to disperse these protesters.
Particularly intense clashes between protesters and police broke out in Wong Tai Sin, a residential district of Kowloon. Police fired tear gas as tensions escalated at the local MTR station and, according to a government press release, protesters were also seen surrounding Wong Tai Sin Disciplined Services Quarters, throwing items at the building and damaging gates.
According to Hong Kong media HKFP, some local residents at Wong Tai Sin attempted to help protesters by stopping the police vehicles that were carrying arrested protesters from leaving the local metro station.
Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker Jeremy Tam was also at Wong Tai Sin. He was reportedly beaten by a police officer wielding a baton.
The announcement of police having arrested at least 20 people was made was made by Hong Kong Police Public Relations Branch senior superintendent Yu Hoi-kwan during a press conference at around 4 a.m. local time on Aug. 4. Yu condemned protesters for what she called “premeditated chaos” across Kowloon.