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24 Dec 2019 | 09:56 AM UTC

Hong Kong: Thousands protest in Tsim Sha Tsui, shopping malls December 24 /update 180

Thousands in Hong Kong protest in Tsim Sha Tsui district, shopping malls December 24 as police fire tear gas, pepper spray to disperse demonstrators; similar protests and clashes with police to be expected over near term

security
transportation
HKG

Event

Thousands of anti-government protesters demonstrated in Tsim Sha Tsui district and in shopping malls in Hong Kong on Tuesday, December 24, obstructing traffic in the district and vandalizing stores. Police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators blocking traffic in Tsim Sha Tsui, while another cadre of officers used pepper spray to disperse demonstrators in a mall in Mong Kok district. Significant transportation disruptions, including road and MTR station closures, are to be anticipated near all protest sites. Associated commercial disruptions are also likely throughout the week. 

The Civil Human Rights Front has called for a march on Wednesday, January 1. Participants plan to gather from 14:00 at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, and then head to Central.

Severe transportation and business disruptions are to be expected during all periods of protest activity. Up-to-date information on train service and possible station closures can be found on the MTR website here. Further protests may be organized with little warning over the short term and a heightened security presence is likely across Hong Kong until the political situation in the city fully stabilizes.

Context

Pro-democracy candidates won 389 of the 452 seats in the territory's district council elections on November 24. The pro-democracy movement victory and the high turnout (71%) of the vote suggest that the public continues to support protests, although tensions have significantly escalated across Hong Kong since November 11, after a police officer shot a protester in Sai Wan Ho.

On September 4, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill, which would have allowed authorities in Hong Kong to extradite fugitives wanted in mainland China and other territories. The bill sparked mass protests of up to 2 million people throughout Hong Kong since June 9. However, protest actions have continued since the government's announcement, as protester demands evolved into a wider pro-democracy movement, calling for government reforms and police accountability over violence.

Demonstrations have spread from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and the New Territories and have also become increasingly violent. Activists have also accused the police of using unnecessary force in their attempts to disperse protesters.

Advice

Individuals in Hong Kong are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests and demonstrations, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business around protest sites, confirm the status of their flights prior to departure for the airport, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.

Individuals are also advised to avoid wearing black and white colors around protest zones or rallies as they are associated with protesters.