Protesters rally in Hong Kong on New Year's Day
Iran Press TV
Wednesday, 01 January 2020 10:25 AM
Tens of thousands of protesters have held anti-government rallies in Hong Kong on New Year's Day, clashing with security forces.
Protesters, some of them waving US flags, started the rally from Victoria Park in the Causeway Bay district – usually packed with tourists and shoppers – and were scheduled to finally gather in the commercial heart of the international financial hub on Wednesday.
The rally had received police approval in advance.
Clashes, however, erupted between police and protesters mid-way during the rally, after masked protesters hurled petrol bombs at officers.
Police also fired tear gas to disperse protesters in the Wanchai district.
On the other part of the city, protesters were carrying banners listing their main demands, including an independent inquiry into the police handling of seven months of protests.
Police had deployed more than 6,000 officers ahead of the rallies on Tuesday to provide security on New Year's Day.
The city cancelled its traditional New Year Eve's fireworks display due to safety concerns, but a light show and smaller-scale fireworks took place.
A firefighter puts out a fire lit by protesters in the Kowloon district of Hong Kong, on December 31, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
Late on Tuesday evening, police had to fire tear gas and use water cannon to disperse protesters, who occupied roads outside shopping malls and set fire to barricades in the Mong Kok district.
Meanwhile, police arrested several people in the nearby Prince Edward neighborhood.
The city has been rocked by protests since June over a proposed bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China. The bill was later withdrawn, but the protests continued, although they have lost much of their steam lately.
China has condemned violence in the semi-autonomous region, censuring foreign powers, including the United States and Britain – the former colonial power in the city – for stirring anti-establishment sentiment and interfering in the country's internal affairs.
Chinese president wishes Hong Kong well
In a New Year video message broadcast on Chinese media, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Hong Kong's recent crisis was concerning and that the "people of our motherland" expected stability in the city.
"Without a harmonious and stable environment, how can people live in peace and enjoy their work?! I sincerely wish Hong Kong well and our Hong Kong compatriots well," he said.
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