Hong Kong police have arrested 420 people in connection with protests since June 9, amid escalating violence in demonstrations that have rocked the former British colony and plunged it into its worst political crisis in decades. Police have also fired 1,000 rounds of tear gas and about 160 rubber bullets since Jun 9, they said in a press conference today.
The news comes as another strike on Monday plunged Hong Kong into fresh chaos, paralysing transport and bringing the city to an unprecedented standstill for much of the morning. Hong Kong police acting chief superintendent of Police Public Relations Branch Yu Hoi-kwan said at a media conference that 139 officers have sustained injuries, with two still hospitalised for serious injuries, including finger and bone fractures.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Beijing said it would speak to the media on Tuesday, after Chief Executive Carrie Lam issues stern warning over the unrest. Source said a ‘new announcement’ would be made. It comes after the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) under the State Council – China’s cabinet – last week broke its silence on the protests and violent clashes since June, giving its first media briefing on the city since its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
Addressing the public for the first time in weeks, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Monday morning lashed out at protesters for hurting the city as they moved to immobilize Asia’s financial center with a general strike. She said the recent wave of demonstrations seeking to disrupt daily life has pushed the city to the “verge of a very dangerous situation.” Her hastily called press conference comes as Hong Kong began its ninth consecutive week of protests with a citywide strike that aims to increase pressure on the administration. On Monday morning, commuters struggled to get to work as several public transportation lines were forced to suspend service and traffic snarled as protesters dragged roadblocks across major thoroughfares. More than 100 flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled. “As a result of these widespread disruptions and violence, the great majority of Hong Kong people are now in a state of great anxiety. Some of them don’t know whether they could still take some forms of public transport, while others are right now being blocked on the way to work,” she said.