The 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China was designated by the government in Beijing as a major day of celebration but in Hong Kong it was a day of turmoil.
Dire police warnings of terrorist actions kept many off the streets nevertheless a peaceful, although not authorised, protest went ahead but what followed was far from peaceful. Large shopping malls and more than half of Hong Kong’s MTR stations were closed. Protesters took to the streets in many districts, some setting fires and committing acts of vandalism. On October first, the police fired a record 1,400 tear gas canisters, more than 1,300 projectiles and six live rounds. They arrested around 270 individuals and made international headlines when an officer shot a 18-year old student in the chest at point-blank range. Given the amount of tear gas and pepper spray used, masks have been a highly visible element in the protests worn by police, pro-Beijing groups and protesters. Pro-Beijing politicians have long campaigned for an anti-mask law to deter protestors and facilitate law enforcement. With me in the studio is Dennis Kwok, the legal sector representative in the Legislative Councillor and Director of Human Rights Monitor, Law Yuk-kai. I should stress that we also invited several pro-Beijing figures and members of the group advocating a mask law to take part in this discussion, but they declined to be here.
It’s almost four months since the protests against the Extradition Law began. Apart from the headline-grabbing violence, millions of people from all walks of life have taken to the street in peaceful protests. But many of these protests have turned violent with young people most prominent on the frontlines.
Sometimes though, groups of elderly people are standing with them.