On Saturday, no metros will be driving in the Asian metropolis of Hong Kong following violent nocturnal protests in which various metro stations were set on fire. The MTR transport company, which carries five million people every day, came to the decision on Friday evening after protesters set fire to metro stations and an empty train set. Two staff members were injured.
In the course of Friday, public transport was stopped because of the disturbances in the city. Stranded passengers were forced to walk home.
Not only were metro stations the target of the demonstrators: dozens of shopping centers, supermarkets and bank branches were also pelted and daubed. The police were pelted with incendiary bombs and Chinese flags were set on fire. The police responded to the violence by firing tear gas shells. A self-defense officer shot a fourteen-year-old demonstrator in the leg after he had thrown a fire bomb in his direction. The boy has been admitted to hospital, his condition is stable.
Protests have been announced for the entire weekend, including Monday, a national holiday. At the Chong Yang festival, traditional visits are made to the graves of ancestors and family.
The demonstrators again wore gas and mouth masks and other face covers on Friday. Since Saturday that is no longer allowed, as director Carrie Lam has decided following the ongoing unrest. The protesters are furious about that. Despite the ban, several hundred protesters walked on the streets on Saturday, many wearing masks.
Since the protests started almost four months ago, regular clashes have taken place between demonstrators with face covers and agents. Last Tuesday a demonstrator was shot for the first time during these protests. The eighteen-year-old man was then fighting a cop and allegedly used a metal pipe.
The police stated that the agent acted according to the guidelines and that self-defense was involved. On the following night, protesters sought confrontation with agents. After these fierce protests, the police called on Lam to set a curfew.
The governor did not implement this measure, but announced on Friday that he would make use of her special powers that date back to colonial times. With this, she introduces a ban on face coverage. Face covering is only permitted if the wearer can prove that there is a medical, religious or work-related reason for covering the face. However, the authorities may always ask citizens to show their face if face covering prevents identification.
Anyone who does not comply with the ban can be fined a maximum of 2,900 euros. He also risks a jail term of one year. Several thousand demonstrators have been arrested in recent months. As far as known, there have been no convictions.