HONG KONG: Hundreds of protesters on Wednesday night (Aug 21) staged a raucous sit-in inside Yuen Long MTR station – where a mob attack there last month left 45 people hospitalised – angry that nobody has yet been prosecuted for the violence.
The crowd at the station was seen holding up placards claiming that no "white shirts" have been charged since the brutal violence at Yuen Long MTR station on Jul 21.
Dressed in black, the protesters lined the walkways in and out of the station. A small crowd also gathered to watch footage of last month's attack.
Some masked protesters clashed with police, spraying fire extinguishers from the inside of the station as others smeared the floor with cooking oil to stop the police advancing.
Other demonstrators blocked station exits and sealed roads outside the station, aiming green laser beams at the lines of shield-bearing officers. Others threw empty fire extinguishers at police lines from overpasses.
Squads of police were stationed on the station perimeter and some protesters jeered and shouted at the officers. A small crowd of masked young men gathered on a station balcony, swearing and cursing at police vans down a side street.
YUEN LONG MOB ATTACK
Wednesday's demonstration was to mark the night of Jul 21, when more than 100 men in white shirts stormed the station, indiscriminately attacking black-clad protesters and commuters returning with pipes and clubs.
Eyewitnesses said they appeared to target passengers who had been at an anti-government march; some activists had also earlier defaced China's Liaison Office - the main symbol of Beijing's authority over the city.
Footage broadcast live on Facebook in July showed people screaming as the men in white beat protesters and commuters in the station and inside the trains.
Yuen Long is in Hong Kong's New Territories, a rural area where many of the surrounding villages are known for triad connections and their staunch support for the pro-Beijing establishment.
Hong Kong's police were heavily criticised for being slow to respond, fuelling rumours of collusion.
Hong Kong Police Commissioner Stephen Lo said the day after the attack that it took longer than expected for police to respond to the incident because of manpower issues.
Mr Lo defended his force, saying officers were busy dealing with violent anti-government protests elsewhere.
Hong Kong police on Tuesday said they had arrested 28 people over the Jul 21 incident. None of them have been charged.
They added on Wednesday that they needed more time to gather evidence so as to ensure a higher chance of being able to prosecute the perpetrators.
"FREE HONG KONG"
At a speakers' corner beneath the MTR station on Wednesday, people denounced police violence and their perceived desertion of duty on July 21.
“They just walked away," one woman said. "What kind of police are these?”
Others sat along the concourse at Yuen Long station, with some holding placards saying "Free Hong Kong" and calling for the attackers to be brought to justice.
"People are here to tell the government that we are angry and we think that we need a fair judgment on the attackers," 23-year-old tutor Chloe told AFP.
Sean, 25, dressed in a black T-shirt and mask, held up a sign saying it had been one month since the attack, but there had been no prosecutions.
"I’m most angry at how the police are biased in their prosecutions," he said.
Peter, a 17-year-old student handing out free drinks and masks, said he wanted the night to be peaceful.
"We need to give the frontline fighters a rest from fighting the police, so they can fight again later if we need," he said.
Anger has erupted in Hong Kong over the last few months over a now-suspended Bill that would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China for trial. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam had later declared the Bill as "dead", but stopped short of withdrawing it.
But protests have billowed out into a wider pro-democracy movement, which has seen the financial centre's airport closed, violent street clashes with police and million-strong marches through city streets.