By five o’clock on Friday afternoon, nearly 3,000 protesters have gathered at the arrival hall of the international airport with many sitting on the ground chanting “Free Hong Kong” as shocked travellers walked through the terminal.
Protesters held up signs designed to look like customs notices and played tongue-in-cheek audio messages resembling in-flight safety instructions.
The Flight Attendants’ Union for Hong Kong’s main carrier Cathay Pacific had earlier urged its members to “stand up for our human rights and be connected with the rest of the HongKongers” on its Facebook page.
Hong Kong airport authorities said operations wouldn’t be affected, but advised passengers to arrive early given the risk of disruption.
At the same time, thousands have gathered at Elizabeth Hospital for a rally against the violence at Yuen Long, mainly medical staff. Many condemned the failure of police to protect citizens and protesters despite a flood of emergency calls.
Friday’s demonstration against the government and police, who have been accused of colluding with triads to suppress protests, was also aimed at urging international visitors to pay attention to Hong Kong.
On Saturday, demonstrators plan to rally in Yuen Long, in Hong Kong’s New Territories, where last week’s attack took place, in defiance of a police ban. Instead protesters are calling on residents to come “for a walk” or to “stimulate the Yuen Long economy”. Organisers have filed an appeal to overturn the police decision to bar the march.
Protesters at the airport called out to mainland Chinese travellers to come to Yuen Long on Saturday for “major discounts” on makeup, branded goods, and milk powder, items popular with Chinese shoppers visiting Hong Kong.
Chinese officials have denied allegations it orchestrated or encouraged the attacks, with pro-Beijing figures in the Hong Kong government calling such reports “malicious rumours”.
China’s official newspaper The China Daily has accused the CIA of being behind “extreme acts” by Hong Kong protesters in an editorial warning U.S interference.
The paper said that the mainland has “so far remained restrained despite all the provocations, does not mean that it has no capability to bring the situation in Hong Kong under control.”
Edited by staff