Hong Kong court extends injunction order restricting protests at airport

Hong Kong court extends injunction order restricting protests at airport

Hong Kong airport
A general view shows Hong Kong's International Airport on Aug 14, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Philip Fong) 

HONG KONG: Hong Kong's High Court on Friday (Aug 23) granted an extension of the injunction order that stops protesters from "unlawfully and wilfully obstructing" airport operations. 

The interim injunction order was first granted on Aug 13, a day after demonstrators staged a massive sit-in, forcing the cancellation of all flights in the out of Hong Kong International Airport.

Hong Kong's airport authority had said on Thursday that it was seeking an extension of the order, ahead of plans by protesters over the weekend to "stress test" airport operations by flooding transport networks leading to the aviation hub.

The airport is built on reclaimed land around an offshore island and reached by train or a highway over interlocking bridges.

READ: Hong Kong protesters plan airport 'stress test' to disrupt operations

READ: Hong Kong students to boycott new term as protests continue

"Blocking roads connecting to the airport may constitute acts of unlawfully and wilfully obstructing or interfering with the proper use of the airport," said Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) in a media release on Friday. 

The injunction also restricts people from participating in any demonstration or public order event at the airport. Anyone who violates the injunction may face jail time and a fine. 

"The AA is in the process of obtaining sealed copies of the order and will publish the order in accordance with the court’s requirements," said the authority.

"Only passengers with a valid air ticket or boarding pass for a flight in the next 24 hours and a valid travel document, or airport staff with relevant identification document will be allowed to enter the terminal buildings."

The airport authority also published a half-page advertisement in major newspapers on Friday, urging young people to "love Hong Kong" and said it opposed acts which "blocked and interfered with the operation of the airport". It said it would continue to work to maintain a smooth operation.

READ: Hong Kong airport protesters 'overstepped bottom line of a civilised society': Government

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests 

Protests on Friday included a march by accountants and a "Baltic Chain" in which protesters joined hands across different districts in the evening.

"A lot of bosses are apolitical. However, politics comes to you even when you try to avoid it," a city legislator, Kenneth Leung, told protesters.

"We used to be ranked as the freest economy in the world for almost 20 years. Can we keep the ranking? No, it’s over. Our core values are integrity and honesty. We need to stick to our international core values."

He put the number taking part in the march at 5,000.

BACK IN THE USSR

In 1989, an estimated 2 million people joined arms across three Baltic states in a protest against Soviet Union rule which became known as the Baltic Way or Baltic Chain.

"The Baltic Way brought the world’s attention to their cause and inspired following generations," the rally organisers said in a statement. "We plead that you will not look away at this crucial time. Stand with Hong Kong."

Alphabet Inc's Google has said its YouTube streaming video service disabled 210 channels appearing to engage in a coordinated influence operation around the Hong Kong protests. Twitter and Facebook have also dismantled a similar campaign originating in mainland China.

The protests have drawn corporate casualties such as the Cathay Pacific airline, amid mounting Chinese scrutiny over the involvement of some of its staff in protests.

READ: Unions urge Cathay Pacific to end 'white terror' after cabin crew union leader dismissed

Cathay confirmed on Friday that Rebecca Sy, the head of Cathay Dragon's Airlines Flight Attendants' Association, was no longer with the company. Her departure follows the shock resignation of Cathay Chief Executive Rupert Hogg last week.

Sy said she was fired immediately after managers saw her Facebook account without being given a reason.

Rebecca Sy, head of Cathay Dragon's Airlines Flight Attendants' Association
Screengrab of a video of Rebecca Sy, the head of Cathay Dragon's Airlines Flight Attendants' Association, speaking at a press conference on Aug 23, 2019.

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions called on Cathay to end to what it described as "white terror", following Sy's sacking. It said 14 people had been fired in connection with the protests.

White terror is a common expression to describe anonymous acts that create a climate of fear. Cathay pilots and cabin crew this week described political denunciations, sackings and phone searches by Chinese aviation officials.

The Canadian consulate said it had suspended travel to mainland China for local staff, just days after a Chinese employee of the city's British consulate was confirmed to have been detained in China.

China has said that Simon Cheng, the consulate employee, was detained in the border city of Shenzhen neighbouring Hong Kong. Beijing has accused Britain and other Western countries of meddling in its affairs in Hong Kong.

Canada's latest travel advisory on Thursday warned that increased screening of travellers' digital devices had been reported at border crossings between mainland China and Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has been left reeling from 10 weeks of protests
Hong Kong has been left reeling from weeks of protests. (Photo: AFP/Manan VATSYAYANA)

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Canada’s decision not to allow local staff to visit the mainland was one for Canada, which it respected. If people came to China and followed the law, they would have no problems, he told a daily news briefing.

“But if you have a hidden aim, and are hatching a sinister plot, then I fear in China you need to be in a state of apprehension and extra careful.”

Weeks of protests are already exacting a toll on Hong Kong's economy and tourism, with the financial hub on the verge of its first recession in a decade. Corporations, including big banks and property developers, have called for a restoration of law and order.

Demonstrators have five demands: Withdraw the extradition Bill, set up an independent inquiry into the protests and perceived police brutality, stop describing the protests as "rioting", waive charges against those arrested, as well as resume political reform.

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Source: CNA/Reuters/ic(gs)

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