9 February 2016
Hong Kong police and several hundred protesters fought running battles in a popular commercial district early on Tuesday morning in the worst street violence the Asian financial centre has seen since the Occupy movement brought parts of the city to a standstill in 2014.
Police fired warning shots and used baton charges and pepper spray to subdue what the government called “mobs” after officials faced demonstrations when they tried to remove illegal hawkers.
CY Leung, Hong Kong’s chief executive, condemned what he called a riot, saying the protesters were “seriously jeopardising the safety of police officers and other people at the site”. He said the police would “apprehend the mobs and bring them to justice”.
When asked by a reporter whether the violence was the result of dissatisfaction with his government, Mr Leung said “you have to ask those people who appeared to be organisers behind this riot” and insisted he would simply “enforce the laws of Hong Kong”.
But Michael Davis, a professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, urged the government to look at the deeper issues.
He said the fact that the protesters had rallied round the cause of the street hawkers underlined broader concerns with growing social inequality in the city and a sense that the government was becoming more heavy-handed.
“You have to go back to the government and ask why has this radicalisation occurred?” he said. “Support for more extreme tactics may be in the minority but the concerns they are raising about democratic reforms and livelihood issues are fairly widespread and the government ignores this at its peril.”... Click here for the full article.