Off The Wire
Clashes at Hong Kong airport; U.N. urges restraint over protests
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Protesters clashed with police at Hong Kong’s international airport on Tuesday evening after flights were disrupted for a second day, plunging the former British colony deeper into turmoil.
The scuffles broke out in the evening between police and protesters, after an injured person was taken out of the main terminal by medics.
Several police vehicles were blocked by protesters, and riot police moved in, pushing some protesters back and using pepper spray at times.
Hong Kong’s Airport Authority said operations at the airport had been “seriously disrupted”.
Hong Kong’s stockmarket fell to a seven-month low.
Ten weeks of increasingly violent clashes between police and protesters have roiled the Asian financial hub as thousands of residents chafe at a perceived erosion of freedoms and autonomy under Chinese rule.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Hong Kong to exercise restraint and investigate evidence of its forces firing tear gas at protesters in ways banned under international law.
“Take a minute to look at our city, our home,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, her voice cracking, at a news conference in the government headquarters complex, which is fortified behind 6-foot (1.8-m) -high water-filled barricades.
“Can we bear to push it into the abyss and see it smashed to pieces?”
China this week condemned some protesters for using dangerous tools to attack police, calling the clashes “sprouts of terrorism”. They present President Xi Jinping with one of his biggest challenges since he came to power in 2012.
Additional reporting by Felix Tam, Noah Sin, Donny Kwok, Greg Torode and James Pomfret in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Jamie Freed in Singapore and Stella Qiu in Beijing; Writing by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Frances Kerry