HONG KONG: Hong Kong students made human chains at schools on Monday (Sep 2) and protesters disrupted rush-hour trains as the city's anti-government demonstrators returned to action after a weekend which brought some of the worst violence in three months of protests.
The global financial hub is in the grip of an unprecedented crisis as a largely leaderless movement has drawn millions on to the streets to protest against what they see as an erosion of freedoms and increasing interference in their affairs by Beijing.
In the latest action, protesters dressed in their signature black stood at doorways of trains, stopping them from closing, at a series of stations on the underground system on Monday morning, causing major delays on the network.
One person was arrested at Lok Fu MTR station, Associated Press reported.
Shortly afterwards, secondary school students formed human chains outside a number of government schools before classes began.
Some wore gas masks, helmets and goggles - the now essential kit carried by protesters during months of tear gas-enveloped rallies and clashes with police.
At one school the bronze statue of Sun Yat-sen, the Hong Kong-educated powerhouse of Chinese political thought, was also fitted with a gas mask and goggles.
A few dozen pupils risked disciplinary action at school to attend a rally in the city centre.
"Hong Kong is our home ... we are the future of the city and have to take up responsibility to save it," said a 17-year-old secondary school student who gave her surname as Wong.
Many primary schools were closed due to a typhoon warning and some older children went to school in hard hats.
Another 17-year-old pupil named Cheung recognised the importance of study but reasoned "if a city no longer has freedom, we can't speak our own views ... then academic achievement is not important".
Protesters also called for a general strike on Monday - although there were few immediate signs of it biting - while university students are set to rally in the afternoon.
Universities were due to resume classes on Monday after a summer break, but students - who make up the backbone of the protest movement - are planning a two-week boycott.
"No, no, we're not going on strike. In these times, we need the money," said Cherry Leung, 47, as she stacked oranges and watermelons at her street stall.
"I think we've had enough trouble for now," she said.
Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous southern Chinese city that operates under a "one country, two systems" framework, which gives citizens rights unseen on the mainland.
China committed to giving the people of Hong Kong those rights in an agreement that saw the city return from British colonial rule in 1997.
China's erosion of those rights has been one of the driving forces behind the protest movement.
Thousands of protesters blocked roads and public transport links to Hong Kong airport on Sunday in a bid to draw world attention to their attempt to force Beijing to give greater autonomy to the former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Airport authorities said 25 flights were cancelled on Sunday but that transport services were largely back to normal.
After leaving the airport on Sunday, some demonstrators targeted the MTR subway station in nearby Tung Chung district, ripping out turnstiles and smashing CCTV cameras and lamps with metal poles. Police moved in and made several arrests.
On Saturday, hardcore protesters rampaged through the city centre, setting fires and throwing petrol bombs at riot police in defiance of a rally ban.
Police hit back with tear gas, baton charges and water cannon laced with chemical dye.
Video footage captured by local media showed police charging and beating a crowd cowering inside a train carriage, with Amnesty International calling their actions "horrifying".
The unrest began over anger at a now-suspended extradition Bill that would have allowed people in the city to be sent to China for trial.
But the turmoil has evolved over 13 weeks to become a widespread demand for greater democracy. China is eager to quell the unrest before the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on Oct 1.
China has said that Hong Kong is an internal affair. It has denounced the protests and, with Hong Kong teetering on the brink of recession, has warned of the damage the protests are causing to the economy.
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