HK grounds all flights as protesters swarm airport

Hong Kong, August 12 

Protesters streamed into Hong Kong airport and quickly transformed the arrivals hall at one of the world's busiest transport hubs into a sea of black.

Instead of being met by smiling relatives and friends, passengers arriving at the airport were greeted by thousands of pro-democracy activists chanting "fight with Hong Kong, fight for freedom!" Most were dressed in the movement's trademark black clothing, some sporting construction hard hats or gas masks.

And many added a new accessory on Monday: eyepatches or bandages to pay tribute to a woman who suffered a serious face injury at a protest on Sunday night.

The woman, who has not been identified, was reportedly hit by a beanbag round fired by the police, and rumours circulated that she lost her vision.

“The HK police are killing us,” read a sign held by one protester. “Hong Kong is no longer safe," said another.

And on walls, pillars and barriers in the airport, protesters sprayed painted red graffiti in English and Chinese reading “an eye for an eye”. “The Hong Kong police are out of their minds, exceeding the level of force in their guidelines,” said a 22-year-old protester who gave only his surname, Law.

“Hong Kong people must rise up and not be afraid.” Some protesters said the airport had been chosen as a venue for the demonstration because they believed police would not fire tear gas surrounded by international visitors. “The police wouldn't act unreasonably because if the people from other countries see how police can come in and hit people, that would be serious,” said Kelvin Liu, a 19-year-old student at the protest. Protesters had already staged a three-day sit-in from Friday at the airport, handing out leaflets about their movement to arriving passengers. — AFP


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