Hong Kong: nearly four months of rallies, clashes
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Hong Kong: nearly four months of rallies, clashes

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests erupted into violence in June, plunging the former British colony into its most severe crisis since it reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

With intense protests expected again Tuesday, the 70th anniversary of communist China’s founding, here is a recap.

First clashes

In the territory’s biggest demonstration since 1997, more than a million people, according to organisers, march on June 9 to protest a draft government bill that would allow extradition to mainland China.

Violence erupts when pockets of protesters fight running battles with police.

A new demonstration on June 12 sees the worst clashes since the handover.

Police use tear gas, rubber bullets and batons against demonstrators; dozens are injured and one protester dies falling from a roof.

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Protesters attend a rally against a controversial extradition law proposal in Hong Kong on June 9, 2019. Hong Kong witnessed its largest street protest in at least 15 years on June 9 as crowds massed against plans to allow extraditions to China, a proposal that has sparked a major backlash against the city’s pro-Beijing leadership. Source: DALE DE LA REY / AFP

Two million protesters

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam suspends work on the bill on June 15 but a demonstration the next day calls for its full withdrawal.

Organisers say two million people take part in a city of 7.3 million.

On July 1, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, hundreds of protesters smash their way into parliament and ransack the building.

Authorities get tough

On July 21, masked, stick-wielding government supporters — suspected to be triad gangsters — beat protesters in a train station.

July 27 and 28 see running battles between riot police and protesters.

The local authorities and Beijing toughen their stance and dozens are arrested.

On August 5 a strike brings the city to a standstill. For a third night, police confront protesters.

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Pro-democracy protestors block the entrance to the airport terminals after a scuffle with police at Hong Kong’s international airport late on August 13, 2019. Hundreds of flights were cancelled or suspended at Hong Kong’s airport on August 13, 2019 as pro-democracy protesters staged a second disruptive sit-in at the sprawling complex, defying warnings from the city’s leader who said they were heading down a “path of no return”. The new protest came as Beijing sent further ominous signals that the 10 weeks of unrest must end, with state-run media showing videos of security forces gathering across the border.
Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP

Airport chaos

Hong Kong’s airport cancels flights on August 12 after being invaded by thousands of black-clad protesters.

On August 15 thousands of Chinese military personnel parade in Shenzhen, just across the border.

First gunshot

On August 25 police for the first time use water cannon and fire a warning shot after clashes in which protesters throw bricks and Molotov cocktails.

Several prominent democracy activists are arrested on August 30. The next day sees some of the most intense clashes to date.

Law shelved

On September 4 Lam says the extradition bill is withdrawn. But the move is dismissed by activists whose campaign has broadened to demand greater democratic freedoms, police accountability and amnesty for the more than 1,000 arrested activists.

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Police officers point their guns at protesters in Tseun Wan in Hong Kong on August 25, 2019 in the latest opposition protests to a planned extradition law that has since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city. A Hong Kong police officer fired at least one gunshot on August 25 after the latest pro-democracy rally descended into violent clashes. It is believed to be the first time a live round has been fired by police in three months of escalating violence that has rocked the financial hub. Source: Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP

Going abroad

On September 8, activists march to the US consulate.

Leading activist Joshua Wong goes to Germany to rally support — prompting an angry reaction from China — and then to the United States.

On September 15, tens of thousands of people defy authorities for an unsanctioned rally. At Britain’s consulate, they demand London’s protection and that it ramps up pressure on Beijing.

Small groups attack the main government complex, hurling Molotov cocktails and rocks over security barriers. Police fire tear gas and deploy water cannon trucks.

Most intense in weeks

On September 22, pro-democracy protesters rally inside a mall with some activists vandalising a subway station and defacing a Chinese flag.

Hong Kong’s leader faces more than two hours of anger as she meets a handful of her critics for the first time on September 26.

Renewed clashes break out on September 28, followed the next day by the most intense confrontations in weeks as police use tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons for hours of running battles with protesters hurling rocks and petrol bombs.