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Three days of protests start at Hong Kong airport

Published: August 09, 2019 14:48:46 | Updated: August 10, 2019 13:25:28


Anti-extradition bill protesters hold up placards for arriving travellers during a protest at the arrival hall of Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, China August 9, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Demonstrators have gathered at Hong Kong's airport, marking the start of three days of unauthorised rallies in the Chinese territory.

Activists dressed in black sat in the arrivals hall waving banners to raise awareness among international visitors.

Protests have gripped Hong Kong for weeks, beginning with anger at an extradition bill and morphing into demands for greater freedoms.

The former British colony is part of China but enjoys more autonomy.

It has a free press and judicial independence under the "one country, two systems" approach - freedoms activists fear are being increasingly eroded, reports the BBC.

They have called for an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality during the protests, the complete withdrawal of the controversial extradition bill, and the resignation of Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam.

Beijing has warned demonstrators not to "play with fire" or to "underestimate the firm resolve [of] the central government".

What's happening at the airport?

Demonstrators plan to stay at the airport throughout the weekend.

They are waving banners written in different languages denouncing Carrie Lam and the police, and handing out leaflets with artwork explaining the recent protests.

Authorities are so far tolerating the peaceful rally, which have not overly disrupted passengers. There are as yet no police at the scene.

"It will be a peaceful protest as long as the police do not show up," one demonstrator told Reuters news agency.

Fake boarding passes saying "HK to freedom" appeared on social media to promote the rally.

Hong Kong's Airport Authority said it would "operate normally" despite the planned demonstrations.

A demonstration at the airport on 26 July with thousands of Hong Kongers - including flight staff - took place without violence.

On Thursday, the US became the latest country to issue a travel warning for the territory.

It came on the same day a state department spokeswoman denounced China as a "thuggish regime" after a state newspaper published the name and photo of a US diplomat allegedly talking to activists.

"That is not how a responsible nation would behave," Morgan Ortagus told reporters.

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