HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong riot police fired tear gas at a university campus on Tuesday, a day after a protester was shot and a man set on fire in some of the worst violence to rock the Chinese-ruled city in more than five months of anti-government demonstrations.
Demonstrators stand with shields and umbrellas during an anti-government protest at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Sha Tin, Hong Kong, China November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Some railway services were suspended and roads closed across the Asian financial hub for a second day, with long traffic jams building in the morning rush hour.
Riot police were deployed at metro stations across the territory and large queues were forming at railway platforms as commuters struggled to get to work. Rail operator MTR Corp urged people to use other forms of transport.
“It is very inconvenient for me because I have a few meetings to go to in Central,” said a 38-year-old man who gave his name as Rodney and who works as a legal consultant for an international firm.
“Hopefully my partners will understand that my city is going through a tough period,” he said, adding that he blames Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam for the protests.
There were chaotic scenes as passengers streamed out of at least one train that was forced to stop when barricades blocked the rail line.
Universities and schools canceled classes, with students, teachers and parents on edge a day after police fired tear gas and students hurled petrol bombs on some campuses.
Lam said protesters who tried to paralyze the city were being extremely selfish and hoped that universities and schools would urge students not to take part in the demonstrations.
More than 260 people were arrested on Monday, police said, bringing the total number to more than 3,000 since the protests escalated in June.
The metro station at Sai Wan Ho on eastern Hong Kong island, where a 21-year-old protester was shot at close range on Monday, was among those closed.
A water cannon truck was stationed outside government headquarters, where the city’s Executive Council was due to hold its weekly meeting.
‘ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE’
Lam said on Monday the violence in the former British colony had exceeded protesters’ demands for democracy and demonstrators were now the people’s enemy.
Protesters are angry about what they see as police brutality and meddling by Beijing in the freedoms guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” formula put in place when the territory returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
China denies interfering and has blamed Western countries, including Britain and the United States, for stirring up trouble.
The United States condemned the unjustified use of deadly force in the latest violence and urged police and citizens to de-escalate the crisis.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus also urged Beijing to honor its commitments that Hong Kong would enjoy a high degree of autonomy and human rights, including the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Protesters clashed with police into the early hours of Tuesday after fierce skirmishes throughout Monday, when police fired tear gas in the heart of the city during lunch hour.
The city was bracing for further disruptions a day after many workers were sent home early and shops and restaurants shut by the evening as the violence escalated.
An editorial in the state-backed China Daily newspaper condemned the violence on Monday and took aim at the “leniency of Hong Kong judges”.
“Allowing (protesters) to apply for bail on easy terms and handing down extraordinarily light sentences has also served to encourage inhuman terrorist acts,” it said.
Reporting by Donny Kwok and Marius Zaharia, Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Paul Tait