Flights resuming at Hong Kong airport after protest chaos

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Policemen arrest a protester during a clash at the Airport in Hong Kong on Aug. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
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Anti-Extradition bill protesters are seen on the check-in counter during a mass demonstration at the Hong Kong international airport on August 13, 2019. (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)
Updated 14 August 2019

Flights resuming at Hong Kong airport after protest chaos

  • A mass demonstration and frenzied mob violence forced more than 100 flight cancelations on Tuesday
  • The burst of violence included protesters beating up at least two men they suspected of being undercover Chinese agents

HONG KONG: Flight operations resumed at Hong Kong’s airport Wednesday morning after two days of disruptions marked by outbursts of violence highlighting the hardening positions of pro-democracy protesters and the authorities in the Chinese city that’s a major international travel hub.
About three dozen protesters remained camped in the airport’s arrivals area, a day after a mass demonstration and frenzied mob violence forced more than 100 flight cancelations. But check-in counters were open and flights appeared to be operating normally.
The airport had closed check-in for remaining flights late Tuesday afternoon as protesters swarmed the terminal and blocked access to immigration for departing passengers. Tuesday’s cancelations were in addition to 200 flights backlogged from Monday.
Most of the protesters left after officers armed with pepper spray and swinging batons tried to enter the terminal, fighting with demonstrators who barricaded entrances with luggage carts. Riot police clashed briefly with the demonstrators.
The burst of violence included protesters beating up at least two men they suspected of being undercover Chinese agents. Airport security appeared unable to control the crowd, and paramedics later took both men away. Police have acknowledged using “decoy” officers, and some protesters over the weekend were seen being arrested by men dressed like demonstrators — in black and wearing face masks.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times, identified one of the men as a journalist at the nationalistic Chinese tabloid.
“Fu Guohao, reporter of GT website is being seized by demonstrators at HK airport,” Hu wrote on his Twitter account. “I affirm this man being tied in this video is the reporter himself. He has no other task except for reporting.”
One protester used a US flag to beat Fu as he lay on the floor. Other protesters and first aid workers attempted to stop some who tried to trample the man, while pro-democracy lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki crouched beside him and tried to calm the attackers. After a heated argument, protesters allowed ambulance workers to take the man away on a stretcher.
Hong Kong police said they arrested five people for unlawful assembly, assaulting police officers and possessing weapons.
The airport disruptions escalated a summer of demonstrations aimed at what many Hong Kong residents see as an increasing erosion of the freedoms they were promised in 1997 when Communist Party-ruled mainland China took over what had been a British colony.
The demonstrators are demanding Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam step down and scrap proposed legislation under which some suspects could be sent to mainland China, where critics say they could face torture and unfair or politically charged trials.
Lam has rejected calls for dialogue, saying Tuesday the protesters were threatening to push their home into an “abyss.”


Thai official dismisses Muslim insurgent demand on detainees

Updated 32 min 13 sec ago

Thai official dismisses Muslim insurgent demand on detainees

  • Officials of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional met a Thai delegation and demanded the release of detainees
  • The insurgency in the Malay-speaking region of the predominantly Buddhist country has killed some 7,000 people over the past 15 years

BANGKOK: A Thai deputy prime minister dismissed on Monday a demand made by a Malay Muslim group to free those detained over alleged links to the long-running insurgency in Thailand’s mainly Muslim south as a pre-condition for formal talks.
Officials of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) met a Thai delegation at an undisclosed location in Southeast Asia on Friday and demanded the release of detainees, a leader of the group told Reuters in a rare interview.
The insurgency in the Malay-speaking region of the predominantly Buddhist country has killed some 7,000 people over the past 15 years and has flared on and off for decades.
“How can you say that? Everything must follow the justice procedure,” Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters on Monday when he was asked about the BRN’s demand.
The BRN also demanded that the Thai government conduct a transparent investigation into alleged abuses by security forces after allegations that a man from the south, Abdullah Isamusa, 32, fell into a coma after being interrogated by the military.
The army said authorities were investigating and that there was no proof so far of torture.
The BRN, the most active insurgent group in the south, has opted to stay out of peace talks between the Thai government and other insurgent groups, although it said it held two previous meetings in recent years.
Yala, Pattani, and Narathiwat provinces were part of an independent Malay Muslim sultanate before Thailand annexed them in 1909.