Tear gas and water canon used by police as protesters march again in Hong Kong

  • Video report by ITV News Reporter Chloe Keedy

Hong Kong police are using tear gas and a water cannon to try to drive back a fresh wave of pro-democracy protesters outside government headquarters.

Demonstrators pointed laser beams at police and appeared to throw objects over barriers installed by authorities to keep them away from the building.

Officers responded by firing tear gas into the crowds of protesters from the other side of the barriers. Police later fired blue-dyed water cannon at demonstrators.

The protesters have not left the area and have been disturbing the barriers, as if to break into the area where the police are.

Authorities had previously turned down an application for the march to the Chinese government office to mark the fifth anniversary of a decision by China’s ruling Communist Party against fully democratic elections in Hong Kong.

Protesters took to the streets anyway in the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations.

Pro-democracy protestors walk with umbrellas in the rain. Credit: AP

Democratic Party MP Lam Cheuk-ting said Hong Kong citizens would keep fighting for their rights and freedoms despite the arrests of several prominent activists and politicians in the past two days, including activist Joshua Wong.

The protests were sparked by a now-shelved extradition bill. Protesters are demanding its full withdrawal, as well as democratic elections and an investigation into alleged police brutality in pitched battles with hard-line demonstrators.

Mr Lam said: “I do believe the government deliberately arrested several leaders of the democratic camp to try to threaten Hong Kong people not to come out to fight against the evil law.”

Demonstrators have taken over many major routes in the city. Credit: AP

In what was advertised as a Christian protest, about 1,000 people marched to a Methodist church and police headquarters. They alternated between singing hymns and chanting the slogans of the pro-democracy movement.

An online flyer for the demonstration called it a “prayer for sinners”, and featured images of a Christian cross and embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, who had proposed the extradition bill.

Authorities rejected an application from the Civil Human Rights Front, the organiser of pro-democracy marches that have drawn upward of a million people this summer, for a march to the Chinese government office.

Police said that while previous marches have started peacefully, they have increasingly degenerated into violence.

Protesters with masks rest inside a mall in central Hong Kong. Credit: AP

The standing committee of China’s legislature ruled on August 31 2014 that Hong Kong residents could elect their leader directly, but that the candidates would have to be approved by a nominating committee.

The decision failed to satisfy democracy advocates in the city and led to the 79-day long Occupy Central protests that autumn, in which demonstrators camped out on major streets in the financial district and other parts of Hong Kong.

The participants in the religious march on Saturday were peaceful and mostly older than the younger protesters who have led this summer’s movement and, in some cases, blocked streets and battled police with bricks, sticks and petrol bombs.

A police barricade had been put up to deter protesters. Credit: AP

Religious meetings do not require police approval, though authorities said late on Friday that organisers of a procession with more than 30 people must notify police.

The government shut down streets and subway service near the Chinese government’s office, about three miles west of the religious march.

Police said: “A public event is expected on Hong Kong Island this afternoon which may cause severe disruptions.

“Text messages have been sent to alert members of the public to mind their personal safety.”