HONG KONG: At least nine people were injured as anti-government protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday (Aug 11), for the 10th weekend in a row.
One was in a serious condition, and a second in stable condition, a government official said. It was not immediately clear if the number included a police officer who authorities said suffered burns from a petrol bomb thrown by demonstrators.
Activists calling for greater democratic freedoms in the city took to the streets on Sunday, with Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam insisting she will not meet their demands.
In the working-class district of Sham Shui Po, thousands poured into the streets with placards and chanting "Hong Kongers, add oil". The demonstration was not authorised by Hong Kong police.
A separate gathering at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay was approved by the police, but organisers' plans to march to North Point were banned by authorities.
The demonstrations come as protesters continued to occupy Hong Kong International Airport’s arrivals hall, handing out leaflets to tourists visiting the city.
On Saturday, police used tear gas to disperse crowds of people in Tai Po and other parts of the financial hub.
Jason Liu, a 29-year-old protester who works as an arborist said: "Our main target is obviously the government. They didn't respond to any of our requests."
A 25-year-old protester who gave only her family name Wong said: "The police should try their best to maintain public security instead of rejecting our request to march.
"We're still here ... and we'll see if we feel like marching later. It will be no good for Hong Kong if everyone is scared and no one dares to come out. We should have freedom from fear."
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Other demonstrators blocked roads outside Wan Chai MTR station and the Causeway Bay shopping district, chanting "reclaim Hong Kong, revolution of our times".
Elsewhere scuffles broke out between pro-Beijing residents and unidentified bystanders in North Point, with police intervening in some cases to pull people apart.
Demonstrators, who at one point lobbed two petrol bombs, retaliated with a flash-mob strategy: withdrawing when pressed, only to re-appear elsewhere relentlessly.
Police made arrests at several locations throughout the day, with protesters accusing plainclothes officers of dressing in the movement's signature black to infiltrate their ranks and detain activists.
"FREEDOM FROM FEAR"
The fresh protests come after a night of cat-and-mouse demonstrations around the city, with protesters taking their mantra of flexible action "Be Water" to new heights.
Groups of protesters sporting helmets and gas masks, dressed in the movement's signature black t-shirts, blocked intersections across the city for hours throughout the night.
In several locations, riot police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds. Police said 16 people were arrested on Saturday, but the rallies largely avoided the lengthy pitched battles between the two sides that have been seen in recent weeks.
Protesters said they were adopting a new strategy to try to minimise direct confrontations with police.
"Our aim is no injuries, no bleeding and not getting arrested," said a 17-year-old student protester who gave his family name as Chan.
"I think our previous tactics of staying in one place led to many arrests and injuries ... We need to 'be water' to avoid injuries," he told AFP at the Victoria Park gathering.
China has said the central government would not sit idly by and let the situation continue. Hong Kong's government also said the violence and illegal protests were pushing the city to an extremely dangerous edge.
Beijing demanded that the city's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific Airways suspends staff involved in the demonstrations.
The airline told staff on Saturday it would bar any "overly radical" employees from crewing flights to the mainland and said it had removed a pilot who was arrested at protests last week from duty.
The central government has shown strong support for Hong Kong's police force, with state news agency Xinhua on Sunday stating that 245 representatives from Hong Kong Federation of Fujian Associations met on Saturday in the city's North Point area to show their support for police.
Protesters have increasingly adopted flash tactics, playing a cat and mouse game with police to evade capture.
Young people have been at the forefront of recent protests, worried about the erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong, while also concerned with issues such as wealth disparities in the city.
Elderly people have also been taking part in the protests. In two separate protests on Saturday, small groups of elderly Hong Kongers and families marched near the financial centre's business districts. Both marches and the airport protests were peaceful.
Several leisure and public facilities have closed on Sunday afternoon.
"I don't care if it is legal or illegal," said 18-year-old university student Polly." We have so many people on our side."