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Hong Kong protesters kick off latest round of protests with airport sit-in

Hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators have kicked off three days of rallies at Hong Kong’s airport in the hopes of winning international support from arriving passengers.

Demonstrators staged a sit-in at the arrival and departure halls on Friday and waved banners in a dozen languages in an effort to raise awareness ahead of weekend protests planned across the city.

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Image: Demonstrators hold up placards for arriving travellers

Mostly young and wearing black T-shirts, the protesters handed out flyers headlined “Dear Traveler” above artwork depicting the months-long protests that have plunged the financial hub into its biggest crisis since its return from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Image: Protesters staged a sit-in at Hong Kong airport with banners and leaflets

“Please forgive us for the ‘unexpected’ Hong Kong,” the English leaflets read.

“You’ve arrived in a broken, torn-apart city, not the one you have once pictured. Yet for this Hong Kong, we fight,” the flyers said.

Advertisement Image: Demonstrators handed out leaflets headlined ‘Dear Traveler’

There was no sign of a police presence, though officers said they had not received a formal application for a protest at the airport and warned against violence or disruption that could endanger public safety.

One protester, Charlotte Lam, 16, said: “It will be a peaceful protest as long as the police do not show up.

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“We have made stickers, banners in over 16 languages, ranging from Japanese to Spanish.

“We want to spread our message internationally.

“We are not rioters, we are a group of Hong Kong people fighting for human rights and freedom.”

Signs held by protesters in the arrival hall included those saying “there are no rioters, only tyranny”.

Image: An anti-extradition bill protester wears a helmet during a protest at Hong Kong airport

Pamphlets stacked in piles warned visitors of the heavy use of tear gas by police.

Protesters have been venting their fury with chief executive Carrie Lam’s administration since a controversial extradition bill was announced which would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Image: Anti-extradition bill protesters hold up placards for arriving travellers

Those opposing the bill believe it would restrict Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms and could lead to unfair trials.

The increasingly violent protests have also become one of the gravest populist challenges yet to Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Image: A man looks out from the departures area as protesters rally in arrivals

While the airport appeared to be operating as normal, extra identification checks were put in place for both travellers and staff.

Airlines also advised passengers to arrive earlier than usual for check-in.

Image: Protesters want Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam gone

A similar airport took place on 26 July and ended peacefully, and there was no indication on Friday that police planned to use force to end what was planned as a three-day demonstration.

The airport demonstration came as the city’s powerful property developers spoke out for the first time, encouraging calm after a dozen big companies warned in recent days that the unrest had affected earnings.

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“The Hong Kong community has been suffering from the acts of violence perpetrated by a small group of individuals lately,” said a statement signed by 17 developers, including Henderson Land Development, New World Development 0017.HK, and Sun Hung Kai Properties.

“Such acts have deviated from the original intent of the peaceful demonstrations and are bringing distress to the business community and the general public as a whole,” it said.


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