Hong Kong’s international airport remains shut down as demonstrators launched a sit-in to block normal operations.
On Monday, thousands of protestors flooded Hong Kong International Airport, forcing all flights to be grounded. The airport handles typically around 1,100 flights every day from over 200 locations and is a major hub of international freight.
Hong Kong International Airport released a statement advising the public to stay clear of the airport as 5,000 protesters crowded its parking lots and public spaces. The airport also said that it would resume normal operations at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and would allow flights already inbound to land. The protestors, many wearing masks and carrying umbrellas to protect themselves from police tear gas, say they are targeting the airport specifically to protest police brutality. The protestors handed out flyers to travelers explaining their protests and shouted statements including,“Free Hong Kong.”
Hong Kong, a world-famous hub of business and commerce, has been consumed this summer by anti-government protests. Hong Kong enjoys a separate legal system from the rest of China, which provides greater civil freedoms, partially free elections, and an independent judiciary. The protestors are demanding that a controversial bill that would allow Hong Kong residents to be prosecuted in China’s Communist-controlled courts be scrapped.
Critics of the bill fear that Beijing would use the bill to persecute political enemies in Hong Kong which has a separate legal system from the rest of China, providing greater civil freedoms, partially free elections, and an independent judiciary. The protestors are also demanding the resignation of Carrie Lam, the island’s Beijing-backed leader, and an independent investigation into the conduct of Hong Kong’s police force during the protests.
Confrontations between the protests and police have grown more violent in recent weeks. Protestors have reported regular beatings and the use of tear gas, while the Hong Kong city government and Chinese authorities have begun to use the word “terrorism” to describe the acts of the protestors, which have included vandalism. Images of blood on sidewalks and injured protestors being carried away blanketed social media on Sunday night as the police and protestors engaged in violent clashes.
The size of the crowd at the airport thinned after rumors spread that the police were planning on breaking up the protests. Public transportation and roads around the airport were clogged with traffic as protestors and travelers attempted to weave around each other. The US State Department has already issued travel advisories for Hong Kong, warning Americans to exercise increased caution due to “civil unrest.” The government of China, meanwhile, has continued to threaten to use military force if the protests continue. The thought of Chinese troops invading the island has caused further travel fears on the island, as tourists and businesses watch the situation carefully.
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