ProGovt supporters rally as Hong Kongs divisions deepen

first_imgHong Kong: Hong Kong democracy activists kicked off a weekend of fresh rallies on Saturday in a major test for the movement following criticism over an airport protest earlier this week — and as concerns mount over Beijing’s next move. The new marches came as thousands of pro-government supporters — many waving Chinese flags — gathered in a park to condemn their opponents and support the police, a stark illustration of the polarisation now coursing through the city. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USTen weeks of demonstrations have plunged the international finance hub into crisis, with communist-ruled mainland China taking an increasingly hardline tone, including labelling the more violent protester actions “terrorist-like”. Democracy activists are billing the weekend rallies as a way to show Beijing and the city’s unelected leaders that their movement still enjoys broad public support, despite increasingly violent tactics deployed by a minority of hardcore protesters that have cast a shadow. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsOn Tuesday, protesters blocked passengers from boarding flights at the city’s airport and later assaulted two men they accused of being Chinese spies. Images damaged a movement that until then had largely only targeted the police or government institutions, and prompted some soul-searching among protesters. China’s propaganda apparatus seized on the violence, with state media churning out a deluge of damning articles, pictures and videos. State media also ran images of military personnel and armoured personnel carriers across the border in Shenzhen, prompting the United States to warn Beijing against sending in troops, which analysts say would be a reputational and economic disaster for China. Saturday’s rallies began with thousands of teachers marching through torrential rain in support of the largely youth-led protests. In the afternoon thousands also marched through Hung Hom and To Kwa Wan, two harbourside districts popular with mainland tourists. Some protesters targeted the local offices of the staunchly pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions, pelting it with eggs and spraying graffiti. “The government has yet to respond to a single demand and has escalated force through the police to suppress the people’s voices,” a 25-year-old protester, who gave his first name Mars, told AFP. “If we don’t come out, our future, our next generation will face even more suppression,” he added. But across the harbour at the pro-Beijing rally, where a giant screen showed recent clashes with police, 60-year-old retiree Irene Man had a very different take as she rounded on democracy protesters. “Their acts are not human, they have all become monsters. They are rioters, with no reason, no thinking,” she said. The biggest pro-democracy rally is expected to take place on Sunday on the main island. Billed as a “rational, non-violent” protest, it is being organised by the Civil Human Rights Front, a group that eschews confrontations with police and was the driving force behind record-breaking rallies in June and July that saw hundreds of thousands of people hit the streets. The protests were sparked by opposition to a plan to allow extraditions to the mainland, but have since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city. Millions of people have hit the streets while clashes have broken out between police and small groups of hardcore protesters. Battles between police firing tear gas and rubber bullets — and hardcore protesters using rocks, Molotov cocktails and slingshots — have since become routine in an international finance hub once renowned for stability. Beyond suspending the extradition bill, Beijing and city leader Carrie Lam have shown no desire to meet key demands such as an inquiry into police violence, the complete withdrawal of the bill and an amnesty. But protesters remain unbowed, despite the arrests of more than 700 people and 11 consecutive weekends of rallies that have won few concessions. Beijing has turned the screws on Hong Kong’s businesses, pressuring them to toe the line and condemn the protesters. On Friday, Cathay Pacific announced the shock resignation of CEO Rupert Hogg after the carrier was excoriated by Beijing because some staff supported the pro-democracy protests. On Saturday, the “Big Four” accountancy firms scrambled to distance themselves from a advert placed in a newspaper purportedly by employees saying they supported the protests. Deloitte and PwC posted statements on their websites saying the ad does not represent their positions and expressing opposition to violent or illegal behaviour. In statements quoted by Chinese state news agency Xinhua, KPMG and EY also expressed opposition to violence and illegal acts.last_img read more

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Ontario teen charged for allegedly making online threat against US high school

first_imgA 14-year-old girl from Ontario has been charged for allegedly making online threats against a high school in the United States.Const. Natalie Lang with the Brantford, Ont., police says the girl was arrested Tuesday night and charged with uttering threats to cause bodily harm or death.She says the threat was made in an Instagram post that threatened a school in Hanover, N.H., and mentioned a shooting.Lang says the girl, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, will be prosecuted in Canada.The girl appeared in court Wednesday for a bail hearing.Police say officers executed a search warrant at a home in Brantford and seized electronic devices.“Yes, she has been charged … but co-operation between our detectives in the major crime unit and the Hanover Police Department is still ongoing,” Lang said in an interview Wednesday.Both Canadian and U.S. officials said they were unaware of any link between the Ontario teen and the community of Hanover, but have not ruled it out.Hanover police Lt. Scott Rathburn said the force took the latest incident involving the Ontario teen “seriously.”“Our investigation lead us, through a search back of the IP used to send the message, to a location in Brantford and we then contacted police there,” Rathburn said.Extra security was brought into the school, he added, and they will be there throughout the week.“We will continue making regular contact with the school and also keep in touch with school officials so we can share as much information as we can with them to determine what their security needs will be in the future.”The alleged threat came a day after Ontario’s provincial police charged five tweens and teens with making online threats against schools in the province. Police reported a spike in similar online threats in the weeks since the massacre at a Florida high school last month in which 14 students and three teachers were killed.OPP Sgt. Peter Leon told The Canadian Press on Tuesday that Instagram is among the platforms where threats have popped up, and he suspected some might be making such posts in an effort to gain followers.Experts have said online threats tend to spike after high-profile school shootings.Aimee Morrison, a professor of digital media at the University of Waterloo, also said Tuesday that some teens make threats on social media in an attempt to gain notoriety and garner a larger following.— With files from Nicole Thompson and Michelle McQuiggelast_img read more

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